Excitement builds as Guadalupe feast nears

Excitement is building around the Diocese of Peoria as parishes prepare to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Friday, Dec. 12.

“We have had volunteers come in to ask if there was anything they could do. This is the first time,” said Maria Ramirez of Holy Family Parish in Danville. “The Holy Spirit has been working!”

Not only is the celebration important to members of the Danville faith community, but people from neighboring towns along the Indiana-Illinois state line often join them, Ramirez told The Catholic Post.

That joy is matched in Champaign, where last year nearly 1,000 people flocked to a Mass celebrated by Father Adolph Menendez, SX, who is in residence at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center and director of the Office of Latino Ministry for the Champaign vicariate.

The feast in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who was named “Empress of the Americas” by Pope Pius XII, is the biggest celebration of the year for Mexicans and others of Latino culture, according to Father Menendez, although “everyone is invited.”

Before he serves as presider and homilist for the 7:15 p.m. Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria on Dec. 12, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, will join the children of St. Mark’s School to pray the rosary at 2 p.m. The invitation was extended by the students of Becky Lemont’s Spanish class.

In addition to praying the rosary in Spanish, the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students will offer flowers to the Blessed Mother and spiritual bouquets to Bishop Jenky and Father Charles Klamut, pastor. Refreshments will be served in the school gym afterward.

The focal point of this day of devotion and festivities is the Blessed Mother, who appeared to a poor Aztec Indian, now known as St. Juan Diego, in 1531. In a series of four apparitions on Tepeyac Hill, near present-day Mexico City, Mary asked him to go to Bishop Juan de Zumarraga with a request to build a church there.

When the bishop asked for a sign to prove that the message came from the Blessed Mother, she directed Juan Diego to cut some flowers and bring them to her. She arranged the roses in Juan Diego’s tilma or cloak and sent him back to the bishop. When he opened his cloak, the roses fell and what remained was an image of Mary.

That image and presentations recounting the apparitions will figure prominently in celebrations throughout central Illinois.

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