A dancer's skirt twirls around her as she dances in the Our Lady of Guadalupe procession in Trenton. Craig Pittelli photos 
A dancer's skirt twirls around her as she dances in the Our Lady of Guadalupe procession in Trenton. Craig Pittelli photos 

By Rose O'Connor | Correspondent 

Gene and Paula Kotowski know where they hope to be next December – taking part in the fourth annual Our Lady of Guadalupe torch procession and Mass in the heart of Trenton.

“We’ll be back again. It was beautiful … to see the devotion and to hear the prayers being recited in Spanish and English,” said Gene Kotowski of St. Joan of Arc Parish, Marlton. “It’s a way to celebrate different cultures and to celebrate our faith.”

Photo Gallery: Diocese of Trenton celebration in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe

The Kotowskis were among 1,000 pilgrims gathered in Trenton Dec. 1, walking for the first time this year after their parish hosted one of the traveling Antorchas Guadalupanas. On that Saturday morning, the streets of Trenton came alive with floats, songs, dances and prayers representative of the Hispanic culture as faithful from each county in the Diocese journeyed from Trenton’s Immaculate Conception Church (part of Our Lady of the Angels Parish) to St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, where they were welcomed by Bishop David. M. O’Connell, C.M., for Mass.

Along the walk, mariachi music and the thump of dancers’ feet hitting the pavement reverberated through neighborhoods. Rosary prayers were recited over loudspeakers from floats, and as residents stood on their front porches, poked their heads out of businesses and waved, a number of pilgrims approached Trentonians on the street and asked for prayer intentions to carry to the Cathedral.

“What’s amazing is the faith of so many who don’t have much,” Betsy Solan of St. Gregory the Great Parish, Hamilton Square, said after receiving a prayer intention from a passer-by.

Father Carlos Florez, parochial vicar in St. Barnabas Parish, Bayville, served as the homilist for the bilingual Mass.

“The Lord is with you,” Father Florez said. “This is the message, my friends, that we as Catholics continue to hear every single day.”

In his homily, Father Florez reflected on the Gospel of Luke, where the Angel Gabriel appears to Mary.

“This passage that we heard reminded Mary that a new age has come forth, the time for God to speak not just through his words but through his very presence,” Father Florez said. “The angel Gabriel greeted Mary with a simple greeting, but through it, he assured her that the Lord is with you.”

Watch the livestream video from the Mass, here.

Pick up a copy of the Dec. 13 issue of The Monitor for full coverage – in English and Spanish – and even more photos!