John Muka of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Yardville, right, stands with a group gathered Nov. 11 outside Princeton Women’s Services, Hamilton, with a pro-life torch dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Muka and his wife, Patty, traveled Nov. 4 to Washington, D.C., with the torch for the diocesan pilgrimage, where it was lighted for the first time with the six other traveling torches honoring the Blessed Mother. The torches are now touring the Diocese. Georgiana Francisco photo

John Muka of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Yardville, right, stands with a group gathered Nov. 11 outside Princeton Women’s Services, Hamilton, with a pro-life torch dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Muka and his wife, Patty, traveled Nov. 4 to Washington, D.C., with the torch for the diocesan pilgrimage, where it was lighted for the first time with the six other traveling torches honoring the Blessed Mother. The torches are now touring the Diocese. Georgiana Francisco photo

By Georgiana Francisco | Correspondent

Every Saturday, from 7 to 10 a.m., a small group gathers to quietly pray the Rosary and stand witness near the parking lot outside Princeton Women’s Services, Hamilton, which, in addition to health care, offers abortions.

These last few weeks, however, have taken on a more timely reason to offer witness, as the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patron of mothers, will be celebrated Dec. 2 in Trenton with a pilgrimage procession of seven torches dedicated to the Blessed Mother and Mass in Trenton’s Cathedral. 

“Our group discussed participating in this year’s feast day celebration, feeling this would be a great opportunity for those of us in the suburbs to join with and support the Hispanic community in the procession,” John Muka of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Yardville, said as he stood outside the Hamilton facility Nov. 11, explaining that this year’s “Las Antorchas Guadalupanas” includes six torches traveling the Diocese plus a torch dedicated to the pro-life movement.

“This is a great pro-life activity, and religious education students can participate for service hours,” said Muka, who carried the pro-life torch with his wife, Patty, to the nation’s capital Nov. 4 for the diocesan pilgrimage. “We’re hoping that many in the suburbs will join us in Trenton.”

On that bitter cold morning, Suzanne Bates traveled from St. Mary Byzantine Parish, Hillsborough, to join the Mukas and others from the Diocese of Trenton to be part of the torch’s mission.

“The presence of Our Lady of Guadalupe is becoming more and more prominent because she is the patron of motherhood,” Bates said. “Today, women have real choices, real options – they don’t have to have an abortion. They can either keep that child or allow that child to be adopted. So I come here every week to offer prayers to Our Lady of Guadalupe to bring an end to abortion.”

Muka said he is hoping that once those not previously involved with the torches take their first steps, they will be inspired to talk about pro-life messages in their own parishes. “That’s exactly what we need. Let’s take care of our communities.”