Addressing more than 300 pilgrims who traveled from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to Mexico, Archbishop José H. Gomez said that just as they had all traveled to another country in search of Mary and Jesus, that journey should continue when they returned home.

Archbishop Gomez presides over Mass in the basilica on July 6 underneath the holy tilma featuring the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. (Victor Alemán)

“That’s why we are here,” Archbishop Gomez said. “We come to this country as pilgrims seeking Mary, and seeking Jesus. We come to deepen our discipleship, as followers of her Son.

“In his own way, he has said to each one of you and to me: ‘Follow me.’ ”

For the fifth time — and second since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. — Archbishop Gomez led the faithful from the archdiocese on a pilgrimage to Mexico, culminating in a special Mass on July 6 at the Basilica Of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, the home of the original tilma of St. Juan Diego featuring the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Archbishop Gomez also led a Mass at Mexico City’s Metropolitan Cathedral during the six-day pilgrimage.

LA Catholics pose with the archbishop and other priests during a special Mass at the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral on July 5. (Victor Alemán)

At the basilica, standing under the holy tilma, Archbishop Gomez told the pilgrims that just as Mary tenderly loved and embraced Jesus, she will do the same for us.

“In this sacred image that she left for us, we can see that she is carrying Jesus in her womb, under her praying hands, his heart is beating beneath her heart,” Archbishop Gomez said. “So we come as pilgrims to this place, and we ask the Virgin of Guadalupe to be a mother to us, and to renew us in the love of her Son.”

Also presented during the Mass were the hundreds of prayer intentions collected from locations across the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and online that were brought to the basilica to be blessed. At the end of the Mass, the pilgrims were urged to bring their friends, family and loved ones to next year’s pilgrimage.

Archbishop Gomez blesses rosaries along with the archdiocese’s Media Relations rep, Veronica Reyes. (Victor Alemán)

“Faith is born in the family, so let us first bring the joy of Jesus, his tender love and forgiveness, to our spouses and children, our parents and grandparents, our brothers and sisters, our uncles and aunts,” Archbishop Gomez said. “And from our homes, let us spread the love of Jesus into every corner of our society! May every person we meet know his promise of salvation.”

Maria Tavarez, a self-described “Guadalupana” since she was born in Jalisco, Mexico, was celebrating the pilgrimage as a surprise gift from her husband to celebrate their 27th wedding anniversary.

“I came to thank the Virgin for helping me fulfill the goal to bring a replica of her image to my church, St. Pancratius in Lakewood, as well as give thanks for my marriage, for my family and for world’s peace,” she said.

Msgr. Diego Monroy, rector emeritus of the Basilica of Guadalupe, welcomed the LA pilgrims and said the shrine was not just for those who live in Mexico, but for everyone.

“You always share your values, you share this family unity, your honesty and joy for the work with which you contribute to the great North American nation,” he said. “We put you all in the heart of Our Lady of the Skies so she, with her beating heart, full of love, can express and manifest in all the pastoral work you do at the great Archdiocese of Los Angeles.”

For more information about the pilgrimage, visit lacatholics.org/pilgrimage.