Our Lady of Guadalupe pilgrimage a day of devotion and prayer
By Rosemary Daniels | Correspondent and Maria Paz Duarte | Correspondent
More than 400 people from parishes around the diocese gathered early in Asbury Park on the morning of Dec. 1 to celebrate a pilgrimage and day of petition to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Busses and cars brought faithful of all ages for a procession between Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Holy Spirit Churches to show their love for Mary in the Marian apparition known as Mother of the Americas and of the Unborn.
The event was sponsored by the Department of Youth, Marriage and Family Life, supported by the diocesan Hispanic family committee and Holy Spirit Parish.
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Father Rene Pulgarin, spiritual director of the diocesan Hispanic Pastoral Committee, led a procession of adorers with Father Miguel Virella, pastor of, the twinned paishes of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Holy Spirit Parish, between the Monmouth County parish churches as they carried a statue of the Virgin. Representatives of ten area parishes bore banners and petitions to the Blessed Mother, and the gaily-dressed delegates carried roses and portraits as they performed folk songs and dances for their queen.
Father Virella then led the assembled in an opening prayer followed by an inspirational message by Father Pulgarin for the hundreds of faithful. “We are all on a pilgrimage,” he reminded the crowd, “and our Lady unites all of us, especially the Hispanic community. In her many apparitions around the world, she comes as one of the local people. And, just as on the slopes of the Hill of Tepeyac, she walks with us and intercedes for us. Her message is one of peace, not of violence.”
Father Pulgarin, who also serves as pastor of Christ the Redeemer Parish, Mount Holly, told the group that the pilgrimage foretold a blessing for the whole town and would bring hope for all participants in the celebration of love and faith. “If we believe in her, we are never alone. Her presence always will guide us to the path of God, and she will be the mother that we all need to protect us from evil,” he asserted.
Fundación Huellas, a missionary group from El Salvador dedicated to address the profound poverty in the country, were featured performers during the pilgrimage in honor of the Virgin. The group sang, played instruments and performed a play called “La Morenita” which told the story of Juan Diego’s discovery of roses imprinted on his cloak as a sign of the Virgin’s intercession.
As part of their visit, the group met with the teens in attendance to challenge them to say yes to God and recognize that no one is too young to evangelize on behalf of Jesus Christ. The children responded to the contagious spirit and love engendered by the group of performers, who ranged from 15 to 45 years of age. The pilgrimage continued with the praying of the Rosary, serenades to the Virgin, offerings by the participants, and children enjoying catechesis.
The day culminated with Mass in Holy Spirit Church celebrated by Father Pulgarin and concelebrated by Father Virella. In his homily, Father Pulgarin spoke of the wonderful gift Mary offers in connecting the faithful so intimately with her son, and ever more deeply with Jesus in the Eucharist.
At the event’s end, written petitions to the Virgin of Guadalupe were lit afire; the flames from this “Fire of Hope” swirled upwards to heaven in the certain hope that Mary will intercede for her son's faithful. Father Pulgarin urged the people to “continue to walk together, and to invite Our Lady into your lives.”
Caridad Lopez from St. Monica Parish, Jackson, came to this prayer-filled day with her children to show them her devotions to the Virgin. “I want my children to grow up loving our Blessed Mother and when they are adults, they can teach their children our devotion, these are our roots, and it is the heritage that I can leave my children, to love their Mexican roots,” she stated.