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Multi-Ethnic Ridgewood Celebrates O.L. Guadalupe

by Antonina Zielinska

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Parishioners from St. Matthias parish processed through the streets of Ridgewood last Sunday night in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe. They carried an image of the patroness so their neighbors could see their devotion to Mary. The tower of St. Matthias Church can be seen in the background.

In order to show their devotion and love for Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the Americas, parishioners from St. Matthias, Ridgewood, processed down the chilly streets of Ridgewood last Sunday night.

When Father Silvester Sarihaddula, who ministers to the Latino community of the parish, shouted “Viva La Virgen de Guadalupe!” the people, responded in one enthusiastic voice: “Viva!”

In order to show the unified support of the parish for Mary, parishioners carried flags from different American countries and banners honoring their spiritual mother under various titles.  The Polish community also honored the Mother of the Americas with banners and flags.

“Even though she appeared to Juan Diego in Mexico, she is the patroness of the Americas,” said Msgr. Edward Scharfenberger, pastor.  “She is a unifying force.”

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Msgr. Scharfenberger incenses the paintng of Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Matthias Church.

Procession’s First Year
This is the first year St. Matthias has incorporated a procession through the neighborhood in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe to precede the usual celebratory Mass and festival.

“One by one, Our Lady is bringing more people to the parish,” said parishioner Oscar Perez. “They all love Our Lady.”

Although it is not a feast that is particularly celebrated in their native Ecuador, Rocio Amaya and her niece Alicia Gomez started observing the festivals when they immigrated to the United States.

“I do it with all my heart,” said Gomez. “The only sacrifice is being out in the cold.”

After the procession, which took nearly an hour, participants came inside for Mass.

At the beginning of the liturgy, Msgr. Scharfenberger blessed the newly installed painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which was donated by the Liz family. St. Matthias, whose Latino population has increased by 50% in the past two years, will now have a permanent way of honoring the patroness. The Latino community in the parish collected funds to professionally install and frame the painting.

After Mass, the congregation made its way into the parochial school’s gymnasium for a festival organized by the Garcia, Liz and Salinas families. Father Sarihaddula said it is good for Catholics to gather with their parish community for both worship and socializing.

“This is a place for us to feel as one family in the spirit of Catholicism,” he said.
Brother Michael Loerch, O.F.M. Cap., youth minister for the parish, said he enjoys the Latino events in the parish because they embody the energy and enthusiasm of their culture.

“We realize that this is an important feast for all of us,” he said. “We are multi-cultural but we realize we are all Catholic.”

The dancers of the Grupo San Lucas shared the richness of the Mexican culture by performing folk dances from their native country.

“We have a lot of respect for the Virgin Mary and we love her,” said Haydee Moctezuma, dance teacher. “It’s difficult to find the time to practice, but we do it out of love.”

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