Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in Mexico 484 years ago to help spread the Gospel to the Americas. To commemorate this, the Diocese of Phoenix, the Missionaries of Mary and Mary’s Ministries invite the faithful from throughout the diocese to attend the ninth annual “Honor Your Mother” — a largescale public event to honor the Empress of the Americas — on Dec. 5.
“The purpose is to unite Catholics of different races and nationalities, just as the Virgin of Guadalupe united two cultures hundreds of years ago,” said Ignacio Rodriguez, director of the Office of Ethnic Ministries for the diocese.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is the only Church-approved Marian apparition in the Americas. She appeared to St. Juan Diego — a Native who’d converted to Christianity — in 1531, instructing him to build a church. When the local ordinary didn’t believe him, she told him to place roses in his tilma and bring them to the bishop. When Juan Diego met with the bishop, he opened his tilma, and all those present knelt in veneration of the image that was captured on the tilma.
The dark-skinned image of Our Lady of Guadalupe proclaimed to the indigenous peoples of the Americas “the Good News that all its inhabitants shared the dignity of children of God. No more would anyone be a servant, but we are all children of the same Father and brothers and sisters to each other,” said Pope Francis in his homily on her feast day of Dec. 12 last year.
Today, the image is venerated by several million pilgrims annually at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, and is one of the most-visited pilgrimage sites in the world.
Procession for Our Lady
Honor Your Mother
Saturday, Dec. 5
8:30 a.m.: Pre Procession Activities
Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, 909 E. Washington St.
10 a.m.: Procession to Diocesan Pastoral Center, 400 E. Monroe
11 a.m.: Blessing from Bishop Olmsted – 12 p.m.: Mass
Enriqueta Sosa, a representative of the Missionaries of Mary and one of the coordinators of the event, told The Catholic Sun that, just as in earlier years, the event will be filled with color, but above all, with devotion and fervor.
Celebrations begin 8:30 a.m. at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish with hymns to Our Lady of Guadalupe, followed by a procession toward the Diocesan Pastoral Center. The procession will include 15 floats, 56 groups of matachines, dance and folk groups as well as 60 parish groups and religious organizations like the Guadalupanas and the Knights of Columbus.
Sosa stressed that during the procession the dances, matachines and folk groups will dance in honor of the Queen of Tepeyac; likewise, the Holy Rosary will be prayed in an atmosphere of respect, fervor and devotion.
After the march, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares will receive the pilgrims. They will then preside over a public Mass, accompanied by priests of the diocese.
Public expression of faith
This year, St. Gregory and St. Francis Xavier Parishes will be the sponsors of the “Honor Your Mother” event and each one has its respective float.
“It will be an occasion to … celebrate the faith, express our identity as Catholics in a public event in the streets of the city, and to express that we are pilgrims and that faith makes us be one family,” said Fr. Andres Arango, parochial administrator of St. Gregory.
He emphasized that at the “Honor Your Mother” event, participants confirm their Catholicism, their faith in Christ and their great devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“I invite the faithful of St. Gregory and from the whole diocese to join us,” Fr. Arango said.
Dcn. Jose Angel Torres from St. Gregory added that the parish’s float will portray a representation of the first apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe and that at least 200 parishioners will be representing St. Gregory.
Armando Ruiz, founder of Mary’s Ministries and the Guadalupe Missionaries, is one of those who began the “Honor Your Mother” event on behalf of Bishop Olmsted.
“It is very important above all in these times in which some want to prevent public events like this because they say such things should be private,” he said, regarding the Dec. 5 event. “We want to tell them that faith cannot be separated from public life, and that’s why the Honor Your Mother event is a public expression of faith.”
— By Leo Hernández