BATESBURG-LEESVILLE—For three days, Hispanics around the Diocese of Charleston showed their love for Our Lady of Guadalupe.
From Dec. 11-13, they expressed it through prayer, song, drama, and dance, and by dressing in special costumes and walking in processions. They spent hours cooking traditional foods, running with lighted torches, saying the rosary and attending Masses dedicated to her. Cold rain, wind and fog that blanketed much of the state did not put a damper on the devotion.
The actual feast day was Dec. 12. It celebrates the apparitions of Mary as Our Lady of Guadalupe that appeared to St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin on a hill near Mexico City in 1531. Our Lady of Guadalupe was named the Patron of the Americas by Pope John Paul II.
More than 400 people attended the St. John of the Cross Church eucharistic celebration on Dec. 13. The event was held at the Batesburg-Leesville Recreation Center because the small church on Columbia Avenue couldn’t hold the crowd.
St. John of the Cross also has a new statue to Our Lady of Guadalupe. A dedication was planned for Dec. 12, but inclement weather caused the event to be postponed.
Men and women dressed in traditional costumes carried a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe slowly around the center’s gymnasium while reciting the rosary. Before the beginning of Mass, they performed a Mexican dance.
Father Orlando Cheverria Jimenez celebrated the liturgy in the absence of Father Filemon Juya, pastor of St. John of the Cross. During his homily, Father Cheverria Jimenez said people today could learn a lot from the life of Mary, and from the story of the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He said it is important to remember the angel that appeared to Mary to let her know she would be the mother of Christ.
“We know from Scripture that angels are God’s messengers, and from them we should learn to be God’s messengers on earth,” he said. “Others need to see Christ in us by how we live our lives.”
He said Mary was the first to take Christ to others by sharing her joy at being chosen to be mother of the Son of God, and Catholics need to remember their duty to bring Christ to others they meet through love and unselfish service. He also said that Jesus, Mary and Joseph became immigrants when they had to flee to Egypt, and in today’s world, people need to reflect on their plight and remember to reach out to everyone in the community, especially the poor and those who are strangers.
“We are all one family in Christ,” Father Cheverria Jimenez said.
More than 600 people attended an Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration held at Our Lady of the Hills Church in Columbia during the regular 2 p.m. Spanish Mass on Dec. 12. A prayer vigil, Mass and large celebration were also held across town Dec. 11 and 12 at St. John Neumann Church.
In Hardeeville, more than 250 people held a procession through the neighborhood around St. Anthony Mission on the night of Dec. 11, said Father Francis Gillespie, pastor. Afterward, Father Gillespie celebrated Mass, and people placed roses at a special shrine located at the mission, sang songs dedicated to Mary, and ate traditional foods.
Members of St. Jude and St. Anne parishes in Sumter celebrated the feast together with a Mass Dec. 13.
Two celebrations were held in Georgetown. On Dec. 11, Father Raymond Carlo, pastor of St. Michael in Garden City, celebrated a Mass at St. Mary Our Lady of Ransom. On Dec. 12, Father Ronald J. Farrell, administrator of St. Mary and St. Cyprian churches, celebrated Mass at St. Cyprian. It was followed by a procession and drama depicting Mary’s appearance to St. Juan Diego.