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.
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.
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.”