Guitars playing Mexican songs for Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of all the Americas, filled the 10-acre campus of the Centro Guadalupano Mission in Wahneta, Sunday, Dec. 11 as more than 2,000 pilgrims from surrounding cities came to honor the Blessed Virgin for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The multitude gathered in procession led by the Knights of Columbus, followed by her image, and then men, women and children in traditional Mexican costume singing and praying.
Five hundred years after the apparition, the faithful commemorate the day in which the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego and said, “Let not your heart be troubled. Am I not your mother? Are you not in the crossing of my arms?”
At a time when immigrants and refugees from many nations are seeking asylum in the United States and the Mexican community is concerned with how possible new immigration laws may affect their ability to keep their families together, these words are especially comforting.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops called for December 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to be a day of prayer and solidarity with families of immigrants for the purpose of offering support, allaying fears and meeting the needs of those fleeing from violence and in search of a better life.
Bishop Noonan compassionately addressed the many reason for migration. “Most of you have come here to the United States to begin a new life of hope and freedom. Some of you have come because of war or violence – seeking peace and security. Some of you came here to protect your children from the violence and crimes of your neighborhoods.
“Jesus wants families to be united, not separated by borders, walls or fences, but to be united in faith, hope and love,” he said. “These are not just words; they are Jesus’ words ‘to love one another as I have loved you and to love your neighbor as yourself.’”
In a warm expression of his care for them, he added, “I come today to be with you and to support you. I want you to hear loudly and clearly you are not alone; you have Our Lady of Guadalupe at your side every moment of the day.” He assured them of the diocese’s support, then said with great joy, “Viva Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe! Viva Cristo Rey! Viva la gente de Wahneta.”
Luz Divina Huipios, and her husband came from Michoacan, Mexico more than 20 years ago. The day was full of mixed emotions for them as it was the first time in 23 years that the mission had celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe without their beloved La Salette Father Norman Farland who passed away earlier this year.
“I loved Father Farland,” said Luz Divina. “When I saw the other priests, my eyes welled up with tears because I can imagine him here. Father loved us dearly and my daughter still misses his hugs.”
Following the Mass, Bishop Noonan dedicated the mission’s hall to Father Farland. Father Farland’s fellow La Salette priests, Fathers Roland Nadeau and Terry Niziolek presented the mission with a plaque and statue of Our Lady of La Salette, their order’s patroness. The words “Father Norman A. Farland Hall” were unveiled as Bishop Noonan blessed the building that Father Farland helped to build. His brother, Leo Farland, said, “My brother would be so appreciative because this is not something he would have expected. It is just who he was.”
Bishop Noonan recalled how Father Farland loved to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe. He addressed those gathered and said, “What would Father Norman say to us today? ‘Do not to be afraid!’ Our Lady of Guadalupe will be with you to help and protect you because she loves you all.”