The parish community of Resurrection Church in East Los Angeles enthusiastically welcomed the arrival of “nuestra madre” (“our mother”) on Nov. 6 with a candlelight procession, Mexican dances and a celebratory Mass during this year’s first Los Angeles-area stop for the pilgrim image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“¬°Que viva San Juan Diego! ¬°Que viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!” said Msgr. John Moretta, pastor of Resurrection Church, at the start of Mass. Echoing cries of “¬°Que viva!” followed from parishioners in the pews, many wearing red and green attire to resemble the flag of Mexico, where Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in the 16th century. The service began with traditional music and singing, and costumed dancers.
The annual pilgrimage of the framed images Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego began Oct. 3 at St. Joseph Church in Carpinteria in Santa Barbara County. A total of 10 churches in Greater Los Angeles will welcome the images with worship services and parish celebrations, leading up to the 83rd annual Procession and Mass in East L.A. on Dec. 7 honoring the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Martha Ambriz, a long-time parishioner of Resurrection Church, is president of the parish’s Mexican dance group, Ballet Folklórico Resurrección, which she described as the oldest parish folklórico group in Los Angeles.
The celebration is a way to “encourage our children to not only follow the Catholic religion, but also to be part of all of these fabulous [cultural and religious] ceremonies,” she said.
She finds that celebrating the Guadalupan mother of Jesus reinvigorates and strengthens her faith and her children’s as well.
“The Guadalupe celebrations just sparked an interest in them to find out more about our Virgin and about our Catholic faith too,” she said.
Upcoming pilgrimage church stops will include: Saints Peter and Paul, Wilmington (Nov. 15-17); Our Lady of Guadalupe, El Monte (Nov. 17-18); St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Los Angeles (Nov. 20-22); St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Los Angeles (Nov. 26-29); Our Lady of Lourdes, Los Angeles (Nov. 29-30); St. Elizabeth, Los Angeles (Dec. 1-4); and St. Andrew, Pasadena (Dec. 5-6).
The mile-long procession on Dec. 7 — the oldest religious procession in Los Angeles — will begin at the corner of Cesar Chavez Avenue and the 710 Freeway, and will conclude at East L.A. College Stadium, at 1301 Cesar Chavez Avenue in Monterey Park, where Archbishop José Gómez will celebrate at a special Mass.
The Peregrina — which is the official archdiocesan pilgrim image of the Virgin of Guadalupe — is a digital reproduction of the original image housed in Mexico City’s Basilica.
In 1531, the Virgin appeared to St. Juan Diego, an indigenous Mexican native, and left an indelible image of her likeness on his cloak, which has survived for nearly 500 years. The reproduction, which was blessed by the late St. Pope John Paul II, was a gift to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles from the Basilica.
For Eva Garcia, a native of Mexico and a parishioner of Resurrection for more than 25 years, it’s “a wonderful privilege that the Lord has allowed us to be here together as a community, to welcome our mother to Resurrection Church today,” she told The Tidings during the Nov. 6 parish procession and Mass.
“Our Lady of Guadalupe is a mother overflowing with love,” said Garcia, her smiling face filled with emotion. “She’s our eternal mother, the one who will never leave us. Our earthly mother has to leave us one day, but she is always with us.”