The 21 Torches of Guadalupe were brought in to Holy Family Chapel at the start of the noon Mass Dec. 3.
The 21 Torches of Guadalupe were brought in to Holy Family Chapel at the start of the noon Mass Dec. 3.
In a celebration filled with enthusiasm, devotion and hope, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Lakewood, held the closing Mass for the Journey of the Torches in Holy Family Chapel, Dec.3. Following the inauguration of the pilgrimage at St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, Oct.29, 21 torches journeyed to 26 parishes throughout the Diocese, attracting the prayers and intentions of thousands.

Celebrant Msgr. Thomas Gervasio, diocesan vicar general described the spirit of the congregation, “The rain did not dampen our enthusiasm or our devotion to the Blessed Mother.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Closing Mass for the Torches of Guadalupe

The joy and passion of the morning procession, swelled into the church, pews filled with multiple generations of worshipers joining their voices with the parish’s choir in praise and thanksgiving to Our Lady of Guadalupe and to God.

The Mass began with a roll call of lit torches carried one-by-one down the center aisle, while a description of their journey of stops at various parishes, schools and other stations was chronicled. They were adorned with ribbons and hoisted aloft before careful placement alongside the sanctuary. The braziers reflected the unity of the journey, along with the joined prayers and intentions of the faithful.

Homilist Divine Word Father Esteban Michael, parochial vicar of Mother of Mercy Parish, Asbury Park, spoke of the events culminating in the Mass. “That means that the Light of Christ and the intercession of our Mother will always be with us. With great joy we are gathered to celebrate this Diocesan encounter that unites us through the Guadalupe torch, reminding us that Our Lady, Mother of God and ours, has always been concerned for all her sons and daughters.” 

Father Michael gave testimony about being called to become a priest by Our Lady of Guadalupe, always being inspired by her spirit and her desire, no matter what the situation, acknowledging that we come to her with our prayers and petitions as “her presence is always felt.”

A message from Bishop David M. O’Connell, C. M., encouraged those present, “All of you who are here today:  your faith is truly inspiring. May Our Lady of Guadalupe lead you to the heart of her son especially during the Advent Season.”

Father Andrino applauded the intrepid members of the congregation, many of whom participated in a three-hour procession in relentless rain and wind prior to the Mass, for listening to his instructions in the days leading up to Dec. 3 when weather forecasts were foreboding: “We are processing no matter what!” He drew laughter from the congregation when he then said, “Water, when it comes from heaven, is already blessed.” 

Father Andrino extended special thanks to the Lakewood Police Department for keeping everyone safe and for always partnering with a positive spirit to get the job done.

During their five-week journey, the lit torches were imbued with hope, prayers and petitions of the people, before sharing their light with pillar candles nestled in glass holders and adorned with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. These candles will rest in front of the tabernacle of St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, joined by the intentions of the faithful.

The last lit candle was given to the family of a young officer of the Lakewood Police Department, Ptl. Nicklas Shimovich who died in September 2020. Both of his parents, and his brother, are all also members of the department. Father Andrino spoke poignantly of the strength of families and reminded everyone that the family of God is always the starting point.

With encouraging words about Our Lady of Guadalupe, Father Michael said, “She continues with her maternal work, of listening to our supplications, sorrows, joys, and concerns of all of us. We have all lived the experience of entrusting ourselves to our mother in our journey as Christians, as believers, as faithful followers of Jesus.

“Let us feel in a special way blessed by the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Queen and the Patroness of the Americas, particularly on this day of our pilgrimage of the Guadalupe torch of the Diocese of Trenton and lead us to follow in the footsteps of her Son Jesus Christ, so that with the power of the Holy Spirit we collaborate in the construction of the Kingdom of God.”