PROSPECT HEIGHTS — The Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, Prospect Heights, is six miles from St. Mary’s Winfield, Woodside, or more than a two-hour walk — a pilgrimage that Janelli Nunez and her parents, Cira and Antonio, make every year on Dec. 12 for the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“We call ourselves Guadalupanos,” Nunez, 18 said. “It means we belong to our Virgin Mother and to Christ. I’ve gone to Mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe every single year ...
“So I wanted to continue the family tradition. It means a lot to my family. I miss school, and my parents don’t work on this day. I think it’s something that brings us closer as a family and to our faith,” she said as walked back to Woodside after attending the annual feast day Mass at St. Joseph’s. This year’s Mass was standing-room only, and almost 2,000 pilgrims walked after the celebration in the frigid cold.
The liturgy and feast day celebration honors the miraculous apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe to a poor Indian named Juan Diego near Mexico City in 1531. It was the beginning of Mexico’s conversion from paganism to Christianity.
Photos from the diocesan celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dec. 12 at the St. Joseph Co-Cathedral.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio celebrated the Mass. Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros and Father Jorge Ortiz-Garay, the pastor of St. Brigid’s, Bushwick, who heads the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Mexican Ministry, were among the concelebrants, along with at least 30 other priests.
“We come today not just as Mexicans, but from other nationalities, because Our Lady is for all of us, our symbol of hope. God gave her to us because He knows we all need a mother,” Bishop Cisneros told The Tablet.
He emphasized a message of unity and responsibility to one another — from the immigrant and undocumented, to the poorest of the poor.
“Our unity brings us together in the faith, in our one God, one faith, one baptism, one Lord of all. So we come together today to venerate the mother of Jesus Christ, whom we adore as our God,” Bishop Cisneros said.
After the Mass, 39 lit torches representing the light of faith were brought back to the participating parishes for their own Guadalupe feast day Masses.
“It’s like my own personal retreat, and it reminds me to be more spiritually involved,” said Ruth Vergara, a parishioner at St. Mary’s Winfield, who has marched and attended the feast day Mass for the past four years.
Father Vincenzo Cardilicchia, the pastor at All Saints –Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii, Williamsburg, was amazed at the crowds and their devotion to the Blessed Mother, and was inspired by Bishop Cisneros’ words during his homily to “go out into the peripheries” to spread the Good News. About 25 pilgrims from FatherCardilicchia’s parish came with him to the procession.
“It’s fantastic. You know, the people risk their jobs to come here on a weekday; it’s a sign that they put God above all things,” Father Cardilicchia said. “So for them, it’s a sign that they abandon everything on this day to give to church; it’s really life giving to me, and it encourages me to go ahead in my ministry.”
Father Christopher Heanue, administrator of Holy Child Jesus, Richmond Hill, called the walks of the pilgrims a “camino” — the road of faith.
“We walk together in unity and in faith,” Father Heanue said.