Procession, Mass celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe
By Enedelia J. Obregón
About 2,000 overwhelmingly Latino faithful from throughout the Diocese of Austin marched through the streets of Kyle for more than 2 miles to honor Our Lady Guadalupe, filling St. Anthony Marie de Claret Parish for a Mass celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Daniel García.
Floats carrying children and adults depicted the five apparitions to San Juan Diego, an indigenous convert, Dec. 9-12, 1531, on Tepeyac Hill in central Mexico. The woman who appeared to San Juan Diego had dark skin just as he did and spoke to him in his native tongue. She told him to call her “Santa María de Guadalupe.” Some historians believe the word “Guadalupe” is a mistranslation of the local Aztec dialect word “coatlallope,” which means “one who treads on snakes.”
Marchers prayed the rosary at five stops. Matachines –– dancers in feathered headdresses and homemade costumes –– danced to the beat of native drums, their sandals slapping the pavement and ankle rattlers adding to the cacophony of sounds. Others recounted the apparition in song. Lyrics from “La Guadalupana” explain how she helped shape Mexican identity: “era Mexicana su porte y su faz (she was Mexican in her demeanor and face).”
Karla Cruz came with her children ages 12 and 14.
“I have always been devoted to the Virgen,” said Cruz, who attends both St. Anthony in Kyle and Cristo Rey in Austin. “My mother always instilled the Catholic religion in us and the affection the Virgen has for us, especially the protection she has offered me in my journeys.”
Edgar Ramírez, director of the diocesan Hispanic Ministry Office, said the procession was not only a witness of faith to the neighborhood and the city, but a reminder of how the Catholic church welcomes Hispanic immigrants and values their gifts and talents.
“The Mass was a reminder that we should do what María asked us to do: ‘Do as my Son tells you to do!’”
In his bilingual homily, Bishop García said Our Blessed Mother of Tepeyac is the Mother of the Americas and was the first evangelist of the American continents.
“She came to our earth and appeared in the image of a young mestiza –– both native and Spanish,” he said. “She is a special mother to all the people of the New World.”
The bishop said in the Annunciation in the Gospel of St. Luke, Mary is at the center of God’s plan for the history of humanity and for the lives of each one of us.
“Mary is the ark of the New Covenant,” Bishop García said, noting that our salvation was subject to Mary’s willingness to answer God’s call.
“She was open to the word of God and to do his will,” he said.
The message that Mary brought to San Juan Diego and to us today is that we are all called to be children of God. She used a simple man with no power or influence to bring that message to the New World, he said.
“She called him the ‘smallest of her sons,’” Bishop García said. “Nevertheless, San Juan Diego came to be one of the first evangelists of the New World.”
Each one of us can help spread that message, he said. This includes immigrants, who have the support of U.S. bishops. The Latino bishops in 2011 penned a letter supporting immigrants and challenging citizens and permanent residents that “almost all of us, we or our ancestors, have come from other lands and together with immigrants from various nations and cultures, have formed a new nation.”
Bishop García also reminded the faithful to remember what Mary told San Juan Diego when he was afraid: “Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection?”