Danville faithful take Guadalupe message, roles to heart

Photo Caption: At a Guadalupe drama at Holy Family Church, Danville, Juan Diego, portrayed by Santiago Castaneda, reveals the image of Our Lady on his tilma.

By: Jennifer Willems

DANVILLE — To attend a celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at Holy Family Church here is to understand that this is no mere re-enactment of an event that took place four centuries years ago.

The Blessed Mother is very much alive in the hearts and minds of the Spanish-speaking Catholics who traveled from as far away as Champaign, Rantoul and Decatur — as well as Indiana — to take part in the Mass and the fiesta that followed in the Holy Family School gym on Dec. 13. And she has work for her children to do, said Father Ted Pracz.

“She asks Juan Diego to be her messenger and we are to pick up on that,” he told The Catholic Post. “We are to be her messengers, too.”

She doesn’t leave the faithful to fend for themselves, however.
“We look forward to the future under her protection,” Father Pracz said.

OUR LADY of Guadalupe is the form the Blessed Mother took when she appeared to a poor Aztec Indian, now known as St. Juan Diego, in 1531. In a series of 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 demanded a sign that it was Mary who had made the request, she directed Juan Diego to cut some flowers, which she arranged in his tilma or cloak. Sent back to the bishop, he opened his cloak to reveal an image of the Blessed Mother.

While the feast has special significance for those from Mexico, it is a celebration for all people since Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of the Americas, Father Pracz said.

“She came as an instrument of the Mexican people, but she came for all of us,” he explained, “and all of us should want to belong to her.”

THAT WAS emphasized by the Mexican and American flags that adorned each pew, along with paper roses of all colors. Adding to the festive spirit of the liturgy were the vases of real roses that filled the sanctuary.
Father Pracz said Holy Family parishioners took responsibility for all aspects of the celebration, working in seven or eight teams.

“No one person can handle everything. It’s a community event,” said Isela Rangel, one of the organizers. “A lot more people show up every year.”

ROSA Alvarez, who oversaw the raffles that helped to pay for the celebration, said it is important for her and her family to be involved.

She’s our mother,” she said simply.

“This is a tradition we want to pass on to our kids,” added Rangel. “The holidays are just about Santa Claus. The Virgin of Guadalupe — that’s not something you see everywhere else. We have to keep our belief in her alive.”

The Danville celebration was one of dozens of observances of the Guadalupe feast around the Diocese of Peoria earlier in December.

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