New Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe

Parishioners of St. Ann Parish, Haines City gathering singing, dancing and praying during the blessing of the new shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a gift of the Juan XXIII Movement ministry. (RANDY HALE)

HANES CITY | More than 300 parishioners of St. Ann’s Parish gathered as the sun set March 25 to pray a rosary, celebrate Mass, and bless their new shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe. The shrine is a gift from the Juan XXIII Movement ministry. As night fell, matachines or Mexican sword dancers in traditional costume, moved to the rhythm of drumbeats as pastor, Father Alfonso Cely blessed the shrine.

Father Cely described the shrine as “a jewel.” He praised the ministry for their commitment even amidst the pandemic. “We honor this little shrine as a testimony of our prayer through Mary, asking for an end to the pandemic. It is becoming a strong presence of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s motherhood and protection for her people,” he said.

Each family brought a rose bush, then parents and children worked to prepare the ground and plant them, creating a garden on either side of the shrine. The small, but beautiful building shelters a hand-crafted tile mosaic depicting the Virgin’s apparition to Saint Juan Diego in Tepeyac.

Beneath the mosaic, the words excerpted from the Nican Mopohua, the document in which the messages to Juan Diego were recorded, are inscribed in Nhauatl, the native language of the region. It reads, “…I am the always perfect, ever-Virgin Mary, mother of the true God for which we live.”

“You can perceive the love of the people for Mary, for the Church, for Jesus Christ,” Father Cely said. “It’s a very strong sensation. You can see that each little part of the shrine was made with love. You can feel that energy.”

Father Cely’s desire is “to make St. Ann a big garden” in which parishioners “can pray and contemplate.” He noted every side of the campus reflects the parishioners’ love of God from the outdoor altar, Stations of the Cross, the shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe, to the garden of St. Joseph, which is underway. All are donated by the faithful. Father Cely hopes the areas invite people to pray, even when the church building is closed.

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic, March 30, 2021