May 21 will mark the memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church, added to the Roman calendar this year by Pope Francis.
The annual memorial is intended to foster Marian devotion among Catholics. Cardinal Robert Sarah, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, said this celebration will help promote affection for Christ and his mother.
“This celebration will help us to remember that growth in the Christian life must be anchored to the Mystery of the Cross, to the oblation of Christ in the Eucharistic Banquet and to the Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the Redeemed,” he said in a March 3 letter.
For the inaugural celebration of the memorial — which will be held annually on the Monday after Pentecost — some dioceses are planning special Masses, processions and prayer services.
The Archdiocese of Detroit has invited Catholics to 5:30 p.m. Mass at Old St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Auxiliary Bishop Donald Hanchon will celebrate the Mass with Bishop Gerard Battersby concelebrating. Priests from around the archdiocese will also participate.
A traditional May Crowning will follow Mass, followed by a procession through the center of Detroit’s Greektown. Michelle St. Pierre, marketing manager for the Michigan Catholic, said they hope for large and diverse crowd.
“Watching everyone processing through the streets with the statue of the Blessed Mother will be a beautiful witness to the fact that while each of us is unique, we all have one mother: Mary, Mother of the Church,” she said, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles urged his archdiocese to celebrate this new memorial with prayer and celebration of the Eucharist. He encouraged people to join him for Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels at noon.
Additionally, the archbishop called on all members of the archdiocese to have an image of the Virgin Mary in their home. An image of the Blessed Mother, personally blessed by Archbishop Gomez, will be offered to any family within the archdiocese who is interested, through the diocesan Angelus News publication.
Calling the memorial a “prophetic rediscovery of an ancient devotion,” the archbishop said he hopes it will bolster modern Catholics’ recognition of Mary’s role in the Church, as well as the infinite love of God.
“The first Christians understood Mary to be the perfect symbol of the Church’s spiritual motherhood. And to know that Mary is the mother of the Church is to begin to understand the depths of God’s love for us,” he said.
“Let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to be a mother to us and turn all of us to have a new love for her and for Jesus and for our mother the Church.”
The Marian title of “Mother of the Church,” was given to the Blessed Mother by Bl. Pope Paul VI at the Second Vatican Council. It was also added to the Roman Missal after the Holy Year of Reconciliation in 1975.
Subsequently, some countries, dioceses and religious families were granted permission by the Holy See to add this celebration to their particular calendars. With its addition to the General Roman Calendar, it will now be celebrated by the whole Roman Catholic Church.