Organizers of the first international virtual pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe said the social media livestream of the event reached more than 3 million people, including 106 groups.
“Spiritually and virtually, we joined together at the feet of the Virgin of Tepeyac to ask for her intercession to face the onslaught of the COVID pandemic. Once again, the Empress of America has united her people, today suffering from misfortune,” the organizers said in a statement.
The international pilgrimage took place Sept. 19 and included a rosary and livestreamed Mass, offered by Bishop Víctor Aguilar Ledesma, president of the Committee on Laity at the Mexican Bishops’ Conference.
Participants made a commitment to respect human dignity and to go out to the marginalized and needy.
In his homily, Aguilar, the auxiliary bishop of Morelia, noted that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic does not change the Church’s essential mission.
“We wanted to continue to fulfill the mission entrusted to us to keep on evangelizing. The methods and ways will change, but not the mission, which will be the same: to announce the Gospel,” he said.
“The Church was born to evangelize. By nature, she announces the Gospel, which we cherish,” he added. “The Church evangelizes or ceases to be the Church, no matter the circumstances.”
While the challenges surrounding the coronavirus pandemic are difficult, they are not the worst circumstances the Church has ever seen, nor will they be the last challenges Christians will be called to face.
“We must not forget that we are all called to be witnesses of Christ in the world, to be salt and light on earth,” he said.
Christ wants his followers to bear fruit, even in times of difficulty, Aguilar said. This requires a complete attachment to him.
“Detached from Christ, we, the branches, die,” the bishop warned. But when we remain firmly attached to Christ, who is our strength, he will help us weather any storm.
“We can lose our jobs, our health, a loved one, our money. But we can’t lose the faith that unites us, that joins us to Christ our Lord. Let's not lose the faith. Ever,” he said.