Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish now a diocesan shrine

Denver’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish has been named a diocesan shrine by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, “because of its service to the Hispanic population and with the purpose of promoting their salvation through the rich liturgical and devotional life that it offers to all the faithful,” according to the decree promulgated Nov. 10.

From now on, it will be known as the Parish-Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. As defined by Canon Law, a shrine is “a church or other sacred place to which numerous members of the faithful make pilgrimage for a special reason of piety,” in this case, devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Father Benito Hernández, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, told El Pueblo Catolico that for the faithful of the parish and for the Hispanic community in general, this is a “special gift from Our Lord and from our Archbishop Samuel Aquila, who has been kind enough to honor this place of worship as a shrine. We would like to give him infinite thanks for this.”

“For us Mexicans,” he said, “as the song, the Himno Guadalupano says, “To be ‘Guadalupan is essential,’ so we feel very — extremely — blessed and happy.”

On Sunday, Dec. 11 at 11: 30, a special Mass will be celebrated in which the decree from Archbishop Aquila will be read. Mass will be followed by the traditional procession and the other festivities for Our Lady of Guadalupe, on the eve of her feast day.

During the Year of Mercy, Our Lady of Guadalupe parish was decreed a place of pilgrimage, such that those who visited the parish were able, with the necessary requirements, to gain a plenary indulgence.

What is a diocesan shrine?

According to the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, “the term shrine signifies a church or other sacred place to which the faithful make pilgrimages for a particular pious reason with the approval of the local ordinary.”

“A prior condition for the canonical recognition of a diocesan, national or international shrine is the respective approval of the diocesan bishop, the Conference of Bishops, or the Holy See. Canonical approval is an official recognition of a sacred place and for the specific purpose of receiving the pilgrimages of the people of God which go there to worship the Father, profess the faith, and to be reconciled with God, the Church and one’s neighbor, and to implore the intercession of the Mother of God or one of the Saints.”

COMING UP: Archbishop leads procession in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe

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On Dec. 8, the second Sunday of Advent, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila presided at a Mass and procession to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast is Dec. 12. The celebration was held at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in north Denver.

Read this story in Spanish

The frigid 9-degree temperature didn’t deter the prelate and some 300 faithful from processing with the parish pastor, Theatine Father Benito Hernandez,  and other priests, around the neighborhood.

With the group were Matachines (dancers) who performed, and men on horseback. “Despite the inclement weather, our archbishop was with his people,” said parishioner Teresa Rios. “This  reminds me of the words of our Holy Father when he said that the shepherd needs to be with his sheep—when he urged pastors to smell like sheep. Our archbishop is giving us that witness today.”

Native Italian John Gasbarro said the procession reminded him of those in Italy. “ I really loved it; it was very impressive, and I’m planning to come back next year.”

In the homily, Archbishop Aquila began by saying a few words in Spanish, during which he revealed that he has a deep devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, and that he has entrusted his priesthood to the Virgin of Tepeyac. This was the archbishop’s first visit to the parish, which was founded in 1936 to minister to the Hispanic community.

Rios was very grateful for the archbishop’s words in Spanish. “Do you understand what this means?” she asked. “He made a great effort celebrating in Spanish for us, so that we could be in communion with him. It was beautiful. May the Lord bless him for he, as our archbishop, helps us to feel embraced and loved.”

At the end of Mass, Father Hernandez presented the Archbishop with gifts from the parish community, including fruits and candies from Mexico, a bottle of tequila and a jacket with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe embroidered on the front. The archbishop was visibly moved by the outpouring of gratitude from the community for his visit, and thanked everyone for the hospitality.

photo (5)Raúl Serna, a parishioner of Our Lady of Guadalupe, told El Pueblo Catolico that it was a “great joy to have our archbishop here on the eve of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I am very much moved by the fact that he would take the time and effort to come here and visit us, especially on this feast of our Mother. His heart is very big, and for us Hispanics, especially those of us who are very devoted to the Virgin, this was very significant.”

 To watch a short video of the procession, click here