Denver Newsroom, Dec 7, 2021 / 14:36 pm (CNA).
On Sunday, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles held its 90th annual procession and outdoor Mass honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe. The celebration, which is the oldest religious procession in Los Angeles, was established by Catholics who fled persecution by the Mexican government during the Cristero War in 1931.
“It’s a joy to be reunited this year to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe,” said Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez in a release.
This year’s event is part of the archdiocese’s Jubilee Year, “Forward in Mission,” which celebrates 250 years of Catholic faith in the region.
“We are gathered here with the desire to go ‘always forward and united in mission and hope,’ which is the theme of our procession this year, and as you know, it’s a historic year,” Gomez said.
Five East L.A. students from Bishop Mora Salesian High School kicked off the procession with a 6-mile relay run and the carrying of the Guadalupano torch from Mission San Gabriel to East Los Angeles College Stadium, where the Mass was held.
The procession included musicians, Aztec dancers, and many colorful floats honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe, who has been a symbol of “hope, compassion, unity, and love” during a difficult year, Gomez said.
“Her image has been a symbol of unity, peace, compassion, and hope for people around the world,” said the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in a statement.
The procession and Mass commemorated the 490th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and marked the culmination of a months-long pilgrimage of the images of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Saint Juan Diego throughout Los Angeles. The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is an exact digital reproduction of the original image in Mexico City’s Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and was blessed by Pope St. John Paul II.
“Whenever I am in the presence of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I feel like a child who is loved,” said Archbishop José Gomez on Twitter in preparation for the event. “When you are in her presence, you can feel the warmth of her tender eyes gazing down upon you. It is a powerful feeling—a beautiful sense of being protected.”
Last year, a limited number of participants were able to participate in the procession by car only due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gomez offered his prayers for the end of the pandemic during this year’s event.
“Today, especially, we elevate our prayers for the end of the pandemic,” said Gomez in Spanish during the bilingual celebration. “We dedicate special prayers for the eternal rest of those who have died and also for those who are sick and for those who assist them.”
During the homily, Gomez called the faithful to keep following Jesus.
“We need to increase more and more in our love for Jesus, in our understanding of what God wants in our lives, in our desire to do his will,” he said.
The Diocese of San Diego also celebrated Our Lady of Guadalupe with a procession and Mass on Sunday. Auxiliary Bishop Ramón Bejarano participated in the procession and celebrated the bilingual Mass, which was held in the gym at St. Augustine High School.
“We estimate that around 1,000 faithful participated in our procession, and nearly 2,000 attended the Mass, one of the largest turnouts in recent years,” said Aida Bustos, director of the Office of Media for the Diocese of San Diego.
Last year, the San Diego Mass was held outside with limited attendance due to the pandemic, and no procession took place. According to one report, this year, the San Diego celebration had floats from 32 Catholic organizations and parishes in the area, along with mariachi bands and dancers.
Following the Mass, the diocese held a tribute to former Auxiliary Bishop Gilbert Chavez, who died in March of 2020. Chavez was the second Mexican-American to be appointed auxiliary bishop in the United States, and advocated for Latinos in his ministry.