In 1531, Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in a vision to the peasant Juan Diego, charging him with the building of a church atop a hill near Mexico City. Diego asked his bishop about the church, but the bishop needed a sign. Our Lady had Diego gather flowers, though it was December. When he opened his cloak to show the bishop the flowers, the image of Guadalupe was emblazoned on its cactus-cloth.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patron of Mexico, the United States and all of the Americas. She is the protector of unborn children and continues to inspire poor and oppressed people worldwide. Her feast day is Dec. 12.
Beginning in Lent 2017, the St. Cloud Diocese, through the “V Encuentro” or Fifth Encounter process, challenged parishioners to become missionary disciples for each other. The Fifth Encounter has strengthened relationships and opened doors between Anglos and Latinos as people step out of their comfort zones.
In this year of Encuentro, Benedictine Father Efrain Rosado, pastoral leader for Latino ministries at St. Boniface Parish in Cold Spring, reflected on new ways people can think of this feast day.
“Our Lady of Guadalupe was, and is, an evangelizer, a messenger of the love and wisdom of her son, Jesus Christ, for all of us,” Father Rosado said. “The main theme of the ‘Quinto Encuentro’ [Fifth Encounter], from my own perspective, is that all of us are called to become evangelizers and catechists, true messengers of the Word of God in our times.
“I hope that the Latinos/as who have participated in this year’s Encuentro will see the celebration of Our Lady through this new lens or point of view and will feel called to follow the excellent example of our Blessed Mother and will reach out to their brothers and sisters in need.”
Alejandra Mancilla was an active participant in the Encuentro process at her parish, St. Leonard of Port Mauritius in Pelican Rapids.
“Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of all of the Americas, not just for Mexico,” Mancilla said. “When we saw there wasn’t much information on who she is, my husband and I did a small presentation in our parish.
“Because of the importance of her feast day, we hope more people will be open and willing to join us,” she said. “Our parish will have Mass, some special songs and a dinner. We would like people to be part of these feast day celebrations.”
She urged people across the diocese to participate in celebrating Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Saturday, December 9
• Morris: Community Mass at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church begins with procession of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the lower level of the church at 7:15 p.m. Mass celebrated at 7:30 p.m. with a meal following in the lower level of the church.
Sunday, December 10
• Belle Prairie: Bilingual Mass (in Spanish with English translation) celebrated at Holy Family Church at 4 p.m. Deacon David Hernandez preaches homily. Food and fellowship follow Mass. (Church is located at 18777 Riverwood Drive, Little Falls.)
• Cold Spring: Bilingual Mass celebrated at St. Boniface Church at 1 p.m. followed by authentic Mexican food and traditional music and dances.
• Elk River: Our Lady of Guadalupe procession and Danza, a traditional dance with costumes and drum music, at St. Andrew Church at 12:30 p.m. Father Raymond Monsour celebrates Mass in Spanish following the procession and dance.
• Long Prairie: Spanish Mass celebrated at St. Mary of Mount Carmel Church at 11:45 a.m. followed by traditional Mexican meal and dances.
Tuesday, December 12
• Elk River: Traditional Mexican songs sung at St. Andrew Church at 6 a.m.
• Little Falls: Bilingual liturgy celebrated in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe at 11 a.m. in the Sacred Heart Chapel at St. Francis Convent.
• Melrose: Spanish Mass celebrated in St. Mary’s school gym at 7 p.m.
• Pelican Rapids: Spanish Mass celebrated at St. Leonard Church at 6 p.m. with an Our Lady of Guadalupe reenactment and a fiesta following around 7:30 p.m.
• Perham: Mass celebrated at 6 p.m. at St. Henry Church. Rosary prayed for Our Lady of Guadalupe intercession at 5:30 p.m. Mexican food and singing follows Mass at 7:15 p.m.
• St. Joseph: Mass with Las Mañanitas, a traditional Mexican song, celebrated for College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University students and others who may wish to attend at 6 a.m. in the Sacred Heart Chapel of St. Benedict Monastery.
• Waite Park: Our Lady of Guadalupe procession at St. Joseph Church at 6 p.m. Bilingual Mass celebrated at 6:30 p.m. followed by food and dancing in the parish center.