The fifth annual celebration of Las Antorchas Guadalupanas – Torches of Our Lady of Guadalupe, “A Season of Remembrance” – will take on new meaning in this year of the coronavirus.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had such a harsh impact on our community, especially those families that have had to grieve the death of a loved one,” said Josue Arriola, director of the diocesan Department of Evangelization and Family Life. “Our faith indeed provides the strength and light we need at such times. We are also confident that we can turn to Mary, our Mother, as an advocate and sure comfort.”

Kicking off the monthlong traversing of torches throughout the Diocese of Trenton, a remembrance service and lighting of the torches will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 31 in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, 61 Georgia Road, Freehold. The event will be streamed live online at Attendance will be limited to five people per parish due to pandemic restrictions. To reserve a space, call the Department of Evangelization and Family Life at 609-403-7151. 

“This year, the procession with the Torches of Our Lady of Guadalupe will be dedicated to the memory of those who have succumbed to the coronavirus or any other illness or circumstances, and their grieving families,” Arriola noted. “It is fitting that we do this during November, the month dedicated to the faithful departed. As they make their way throughout the Diocese, the torches will be a vivid reminder to implore Our Lady to intercede for the departed members of our diocesan family and to keep all who grieve close to her heart.”

As in prior years, each torch will make its way through various parishes, schools and Catholic service organizations, where it will be “an opportunity for parish ministers and groups to pray the Rosary of Our Lady of Guadalupe for the Holy Souls each day that week,” Arriola explained.

The closing Mass in December will be livestreamed from St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton. Similar to years’ past, there will be a procession through the streets of Trenton. However, due to the pandemic, faithful are invited to the Cathedral only. The procession will consist of a select few with the Blessed Sacrament and a statue of the Blessed Mother. Once it reaches the Cathedral, those gathered can process around the Cathedral square with social distancing and face masks required.

For 2020, a Tribute Wall Memorial – available at – will allow faithful to enter the names of those who have died this year.

“Tributes and memorials are a wealth of healing and support for those who have just lost a loved one,” Arriola said. “We are encouraging everybody to add the names of their deceased loved one on the diocesan Tribute Wall Memorial, and dedicate a memorial message to those who, because of the COVID-19 virus or any other illness or circumstance, have lost their lives.”

During the Oct. 31 remembrance service, the names on the Tribute Wall will be called out individually, initiating the month of prayer for All Souls in November, Arriola said.

“It is our human nature to want to remember those who have gone before us to be with the Lord,” he continued. “It symbolizes acknowledgment and closeness, and sometimes the road to healing, acceptance, and peace begins with remembrance.”

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