Marking the Dec. 12 feast of the Patroness of the Americas, South Jersey’s Hispanic communities and others honored “La Morenita” in liturgy, song and dancing.
The festivities at parishes throughout the Camden Diocese and beyond provided opportunities for faithful, young and old, to give praise and thanksgiving to Our Lady of Guadalupe, who appeared to San Juan Diego on Mexico’s Tepeyac Hill in the 16th century.
Some worshippers were dressed like Juan Diego and the Virgin Mother, and many placed flowers in front of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Bishop Dennis Sullivan led a procession and liturgy at Saint Joseph Church, Saint Clare of Assisi Parish in Swedesboro on Dec. 12.
The night before, the Mass and celebration at Lindenwold’s Parish Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which lasted into the early morning hours of her feast day, included Aztec dancers; a seven-piece Mariachi band; and a feast of tacos and other traditional Hispanic fare.
The parish had on display, from Dec. 11-14, a Marian image that has been commissioned as a “missionary image” by the Basilica Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
In Rome on the day of the feast, Pope Francis said the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which mirrored that of the indigenous people of the time, is a sign of Mary’s closeness to those who are marginalized. Like Juan Diego, who felt of no importance at being chosen by Mary because of his indigenous heritage, marginalized people in today’s world are often made to feel worthless by conditions imposed upon them, the pope said in his homily during a Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica.
“Among them are the indigenous and Afro-American communities, who often are not treated with dignity and equality of conditions; many women who are excluded because of their sex, race, or socioeconomic situation; young people who receive a poor education and have no opportunities to advance in their studies or to enter into the labor market so as to move ahead and establish a family; many poor people, unemployed, migrants, displaced, landless peasants, who seek to survive on the informal market; boys and girls subjected to child prostitution, often linked to sex tourism,” he said, quoting a 2007 Latin American bishops’ council document he helped write.