‘Long Live the Virgin of Guadalupe!’

Diocesan Office of Multicultural Ministry, Guadalupe Committee honors Our Lady with Mass and lively celebration of faith


PROVIDENCE — “Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!” “Long live the Virgin of Guadalupe!” It was with these words that Father Jaime García began his homily during Mass on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe held at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul on December 12. To this rallying call came an enthusiastic response from the nearly full congregation.
The celebrations were filled with enthusiasm, as this phrase was repeated at various points throughout the Mass, with cheers and clapping from those in attendance. The music accompanying the Mass was performed in an impassioned manner, with attendees singing and clapping along.
The Mass was organized by the Office of Multicultural Ministry and the diocesan Guadalupe Committee.
The night’s events began an hour before the start of Mass, with those present reciting the Holy Rosary. This was followed by a group of mariachi musicians performing devotional music in the style of traditional Mexican folk music. This same group also provided music for the liturgy itself, thereby making the night both a spiritual event and a celebration of Hispanic culture.
Holy Mass began at 7 p.m. The liturgy was immediately preceded by a traditional Aztec dance performed by members of the local Mexican community. Mass was presided by Father Charles Grondin, the pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Providence. Concelebrating Mass were several local priests, many of whom were from the Latin-American community in the Diocese of Providence. Also in attendance in choir was retired Auxiliary Bishop Robert C. Evans.
Scripture readings and prayers were recited in both English and Spanish, and the homily was delivered in English and again in Spanish. Father García, who previously served at St. Charles Borromeo parish in Providence and who now currently serves as a chaplain to the Spanish-speaking community at St. Joseph’s parish in Newport, began his sermon by thanking Bishop Evans and all those in attendance for their presence.
“I want to thank Your Excellency, Most Reverend Robert Evans, for your inspiring presence here in celebrating Our Lady of Guadalupe. I also want to thank my brother priests, deacons, seminarians, religious, and all those who have any role in preparation for this Sacred Liturgy.”
“I also want to thank all of you for your faith in the worship of Christ and Our Lady of Guadalupe,” Father García continued.
Father García went on to note how the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe points to the close connection between religion and culture. “Today, we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of Latin America, a feast in which we recognize an indigenous face in the dark face of Mary — our own race, our own land — and in her, we celebrate the life of so many Latin American brothers and sisters who recognize her as a Mother.”
Yet, Father García stated, the fact that the Blessed Mother would appear to humans in the first place allows us to place the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe within a more universal context, and find in it a spiritual significance for all people. “As we celebrate the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe today, all Christians rejoice and feel a special favor that overwhelms us and compels us to turn our eyes to Tepeyac” — a reference to the Hill of Tepeyac in Guadalupe, Mexico, where the Blessed Mother appeared. Father García noted that any authentic encounter with the Blessed Virgin Mary necessarily entails an appreciation of her role as the Mother of Jesus, and this realization brings with it a sense of joy, admiration, and humbleness. Father García asserted that what one feels when encountering the Blessed Virgin Mary parallels what was expressed by St. Elizabeth when visited by the Virgin Mary, “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of the Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43)
“She brings the joy of a Savior, Who comes to illuminate our darkness, Who comes to rescue us from our sins and our injustices,” Father García said. Since the Most Blessed Mother is the mother of Our Lord, she can serve as a true spiritual mother, and thus the Blessed Virgin Mary can serve as a source of hope and encouragement during difficult times. It is for this reason, Father García noted, that Pope Francis, when consecrating Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, quoted the words of Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego, “Am I not here who am your mother?”
During and before Mass, those in attendance left religious artifacts, including crosses, crucifixes, rosaries, religious paintings and statues, near an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. During the presentation of the gifts, some in attendance brought forward baskets filled with food, toiletries, and other goods to be used by the Diocese in helping the poor. After Mass, Bishop Evans blessed the religious artifacts and baskets.