[dropcap type=”4″]T[/dropcap]housands of people were drawn to the streets of downtown Phoenix Dec. 6 in an outpouring of love for Our Lady of Guadalupe at the annual Honor Your Mother celebration.
Phoenix police shut down traffic to allow for the parade of colorfully arrayed participants in a procession that stretched from Immaculate Heart of Mary Church all the way to the area just outside St. Mary’s Basilica and the Diocesan Pastoral Center.
Dozens of dance groups, many bearing images of Our Lady of Guadalupe on sequined costumes and feathered head dresses, twirled in unison down the street, beating drums and shaking maracas. Many held statues of the Blessed Mother adorned with roses and banners that proclaimed the name of their parish or prayer group.
Alicia Delgado of St. Mark parish was carrying her nearly 2-year-old nephew, dressed as a tiny St. Juan Diego. The toddler, who sported a marker mustache and miniature tilma, had fallen asleep in her arms in spite of the drumming of matachine groups that made their way down Monroe Street.
“We come every year to celebrate the Virgin of Guadalupe,” Delgado said. “He’s little and doesn’t understand what’s going on, but we want to involve him anyway.”
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares, stood on the stage in front of the Phoenix Convention Center for more than an hour as the parade made its way past. Both bishops commented on the presence of the many infants and small children at the event.
“You can see the faith is being transmitted from parents to children,” Bishop Nevares said. “It’s wonderful to see that the faith isn’t just for older people. Thank you, parents and grandparents, for passing on the faith.”
Raimundo Olvera stood holding a large banner emblazoned with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Olvera was one of two dozen members of the Tepeyac Dance Group based in Mesa.
“All my life I’ve believed in God and in her,” he said. “We keep our tradition going.”
Luisa Delgado of Tempe was with her mother and infant daughter and said the family attends the event every year.
“The Virgin prays for us and she wants us to be in unity with our brothers,” Delgado said. “She wants us to love each other and to be in union with Christ in love. We pray at home, too.”
“Many people all over the world are being persecuted and killed for the faith. What a joy it is to express our faith without fear.”
Jorge Sandoval of St. Catherine Parish was one of the masters of ceremony for the procession. The annual Honor Your Mother festivities, he said, demonstrate the great love the Hispanic community has for the Blessed Mother, especially under her title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, but they’re also meant to draw others. A Filipino group participated in the parade, carrying an image of Our Lady.
“We come as children of God and children of our Blessed Mother to celebrate our faith and to pray together and also to be with our bishops,” Sandoval said. “I think this event shows we can unite together as Catholic brothers and sisters to pray and celebrate our faith. There’s a lot of joy.”
A bilingual, outdoor Mass, concelebrated by both bishops and several priests from around the diocese, followed the procession, with Bishop Nevares giving the homily.
“To have this opportunity to express our faith is a miracle,” Bishop Nevares said. “Many people all over the world are being persecuted and killed for the faith. What a joy it is to express our faith without fear.”