Through the intercession of “Virgen de Guadalupe,” plans for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe are proceeding with the hopes of providing as much celebration as possible amid a global pandemic and a world of social unrest.
Particularly in the areas of large Latino populations in the Diocese of Scranton, the annual observance commemorates the appearance of the Virgin Mary to a Mexican Indian peasant — now venerated as Saint Juan Diego — in December 1531 in Tepeyac, near present-day Mexico City.
The Blessed Mother’s appearance is believed to have resulted in millions of conversions to Catholicism, and her message of hope continues to inspire those of Hispanic descent, especially natives of Mexico.
In 1946, Pope Pius XII declared Our Lady of Guadalupe as Patroness of the Americas.
The Our Lady of Guadalupe feast on Dec. 12 will culminate a host of celebrations being planned throughout the Diocese, especially in those parishes made up of significant Hispanic/Latino communities.
Bishop Joseph C. Bambera will celebrate the feast day Mass on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 11 a.m. at Saint John Neumann Parish at Nativity of Our Lord Church, 633 Orchard St., in South Scranton.
According to Father Jonathan Kuhar, who is serving as assistant pastor at Saint John Neumann following his ordination in June, traditional plans that normally mark the celebration have been scaled back due to safety concerns.
“Although it is unfortunate we are unable to have so many traditional aspects of our celebration,” Father Kuhar said, “the silver lining for us must be that more of our attention will be directed toward the Mass, which will be celebrated in Spanish. We hope all people will discover the beauty of the Spanish language and find value in celebrating this special feast day.”
To maintain proper social distancing, reservations are required to attend the Mass — the first 150 reserving a place will be seated in the upper church of the Nativity worship site; the following 140 will view the livestream video of the feast day liturgy. The Mass will also be livestream on their Facebook page.
Registration may be found on the parish website at www.stjnparish.org or on Facebook @stjnparish.
Later in the day on Dec. 12, Bishop Bambera will preside at the Eucharistic liturgy for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at 6 p.m. at Saint Nicholas Parish in Wilkes-Barre. The Mass will be livestream on Facebook and YouTube.
With social distancing guidelines in effect, seating is limited and reservations are required to attend. Registration can be made by visiting the parish website: www.stnicholasrc.com.
For the past ten years, Saint Matthew Parish in East Stroudsburg has received the “Virgen de Guadalupe Torch,” a burning symbol marking the annual Marian feast and originating from the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
As it passes through the United States, accompanied by images of Our Lady and Saint Juan Diego, Saint Matthew’s has been the only church in Pennsylvania which actively participates along the torch’s celebratory route.
A Mass heralding the Guadalupe Torch’s arrival will be hosted at Saint Matthew Church on Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m.
On Friday, Dec. 11, the Vigil liturgy for Our Lady of Guadalupe will be celebrated at 6:30 p.m., followed by exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Rosary recitation, and a teaching. The Virgin of Guadalupe will be venerated in music with “Serenata” (serenade) and “Mañanitas” — traditional singing to honor a loved one — at 8:30 p.m.
Saint Matthew’s will host the Mass for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 1 p.m.
Holy Annunciation Parish in Hazleton will host their traditional Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe, leading up to the feast, from Dec. 3-11. The Novena is customarily hosted each evening at nine different homes during the devotion; however, the tradition has been suspended this year due to the pandemic.
On Saturday, Dec. 12, Annunciation Parish will host Very Rev. Matthew Spencer, OSJ, provincial superior of the Oblates of Saint Joseph in America, who will preside at the Feast Mass at 7 p.m. The celebration will be highlighted by Mariachi singers.
Father John Ruth, pastor of Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary Parish in Jermyn, will be principal celebrant for the Spanish Mass commemorating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 6 p.m. in Sacred Heart of Mary Church, 624 Madison Ave. Father Ruth will also preach the homily in Spanish.
“I love the Hispanic culture, traditions and language, praying and reading each day in Spanish,” the pastor said, noting he has enjoyed a sizable following of Latino faithful since actively serving in Hispanic ministry during his Scranton assignments at Saint John Neumann and Saint Patrick parishes.
Father Ruth further shared that a parish pilgrimage to Lady of Guadalupe Basilica in Mexico a few years ago returned with replicas of the miraculous image that now adorn Nativity Church (in Scranton) and the parish church in Jermyn.
“Every time I look at Mary’s image (as Our Lady of Guadalupe), I am very moved,” he remarked.
Father Ruth added that the feast day celebration will be complete with Mariachi accompaniment for the procession with the Marian image of Guadalupe, which will be presented by a young parishioner portraying Juan Diego. Fiesta with a light dinner will follow the Mass, with social distancing and masks required.
Leydi Rodriguez of Scranton, a member of Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary, said, “We know that Mary, as the Mother of Jesus and also our Mother, is a great intercessor. It is an honor to call her ‘Mother.’”
Fellow parishioner Danielle Muñoz Heras of Carbondale concurred.
“Our Lady of Guadalupe came to Mexico where there had been worship of pagan gods,” she remarked. “You can see in her miraculous image the darkened moon at her feet and the rays of the sun and stars around her mantle. This clearly said to the people that she was from the One True God. She helps us, as well, to believe in Jesus and to abandon false gods in own lives.”