Celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe held in Beloit Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Pat Casucci, Catholic Herald Correspondent   
Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016 -- 12:00 AM
mariachi band
Members of the Mariachi Juvenil del Sur include Miguel Juarez, Fabian Mercado, Miguel Juarez, Jr., Fabian Mercado, Jr., Rodrigo Mercado, Rego Raul, and Goel Escovar. (Catholic Herald photos/Pat Casucci)

BELOIT -- A joyous celebration honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe on her feast day, December 12, attracted hundreds of area residents, including families with children, to a solemn Mass offered in the Spanish language, a Mariachi band concert, and a festive Mexican meal.

Held at Our Lady of the Assumption Church (OLA), the event was sponsored by the Hispanic Ministry of the three Beloit Catholic parishes: St. Jude, St. Thomas, and OLA. Araceli Montoya, director of Hispanic ministry for the Beloit parishes, coordinated the event.

Mexican music

Prior to Mass, a half hour concert of traditional Mexican songs was presented by Mariachi Juvenil del Sur from Harvard, Ill. They stood in a semicircle at the foot of the altar before a framed image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Among the songs was a cheery “Las Mananitas,” which means “Happy Birthday to Our Lady.” The group, led by Miguel Juarez and Fabian Mercodo, also provided music during the Mass.

Mass in Spanish

Celebrating Mass in the Spanish language, St. Jude Pastor Fr. John Hedrick commented, “I feel that I am only beginning to understand the faith of the Mexican people.”

He has studied the Spanish language in order to offer Mass on the third Sunday of each month for area Hispanic people.

Father Hedrick summarized the importance of the celebration by saying, “I think back to the words of Pope Francis when he visited Mexico earlier this year.”

Father Hedrick said Pope Francis’ words included, “Mary, the woman of ‘yes,’ wished also to come to the inhabitants of these American lands through the person of the Indian St. Juan Diego. Just as she went along the paths of Judea and Galilee, in the same way she walked through Tepeyac, wearing the indigenous garb and using their language so as to serve this great nation.

“Just as she accompanied Elizabeth in her pregnancy, so too she has and continues to accompany the development of this blessed Mexican land. Just as she made herself present to little Juan, so too she continues to reveal herself to all of us, especially to those who feel, like him, ‘worthless.’”

OLA Pastor Fr. Mike Resop, who concelebrated the Mass, said, “This festive experience was one of culture and sacred devotion. Over 500 people who gathered for Mass and a meal was very inspiring.”

During the Mass, the readings, Gospel, and homily were spoken in the Spanish language and repeated in English. Mass servers were Jaquelin Bolanos and Imelda Dominquez.

Honoring Our Lady

In a procession prior to the Mass, people honored Our Lady by presenting fresh bouquets of flowers placed in vases on the altar steps. Many children were dressed in traditional Mexican attire featuring colorful embroidery and images.

Following Mass, many spent time kneeling in veneration of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Special celebration

Montoya said it was “an exciting special celebration that means so much to the Mexican people. We are happy to share our faith and traditions and it was a wonderful surprise that we had about 500 attend. The church parking lots were full!”

She also thanked the many people who donated food for the meal. “We had generous donations of a large variety of foods including special Mexican dishes.” She especially thanked Beloit resident Yolanda Banuelos “for making dozens of her delicious tamales.”

Montoya added, “My main work is to help the area Hispanic community be welcome and be part of our Catholic Church.” She expressed her appreciation for all the people participating in planning the event, including the two pastors, Eucharistic ministers, and parish staff members.

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