Bishop Kettler, 600+ parishioners celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe

Categories: Around the Diocese

December 20, 2013, edition
By Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully

Sounds of maracas and bells echoed through St. John’s Abbey Church as traditional Matachines dancers, wearing feathered headpieces and images of Our Lady of Guadalupe, marched down the aisle at the beginning of the Dec. 15 Mass.


Viejitos Dance Purepecha group performs during the reception following Mass celebrating Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville. Photo by Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully

Facing the assembly of more than 600 Hispanics and Anglos from across the St. Cloud Diocese, Bishop Donald Kettler and Benedictine Abbot John Klassen of St. John’s Abbey watched the series of dances before continuing Mass.

Prior to the Matachines, the Viejitos Dance Purepecha group, with the men wearing masks and holding canes and the women donning elaborate colorful dresses, swayed and swirled to a driving rhythm. After the Matachines, children sang for Our Lady of Guadalupe before dropping numerous roses by the painting of her displayed in front of the pews.

“Our Lady of Guadalupe is a patron of protection, care and compassion,” said Abbot Klassen in his homily. “Our Lady of Guadalupe brings together people of distinct cultural heritages while at the same time affirming their uniqueness.”

The lively celebration was designed to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast day is Dec. 12, and pray for her intercession for comprehensive immigration reform. A program followed the Mass with a meal, dancing, music and a reenactment of the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

“To me, Our Lady of Guadalupe is a role model because of her humbleness and the message she brought to the people,” said Alejandra Mancilla, a member of St. Leonard of Port Mauritius Parish in Pelican Rapids. “She intercedes for us. We know she can go to her son and make things happen for us.”

The celebration brought together all the Hispanic ministries and communities of the diocese. More than 80 people behind the scenes and numerous sponsors worked together to make the celebration possible, said Mayuli Bales, diocesan director of multicultural ministries.

After a festive meal of tacos, rice and beans, Jocelyn Alcala and Jerly Gomez showcased their skill in bringing Christmas music to the stage. The Matachines and Viejitos Dance Purepecha group dusted off their dancing shoes once more and the children from Pelican Rapids again raised their voices in song. Children from Waite Park and Cold Spring performed  a play about Juan Diego and his visits from Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Legislative concerns were brought to the forefront in Abbot Klassen’s homily and during the reception in a speech given by Edith Hernandez-Fussy, an immigration attorney with the Hernandez Law Firm of St. Cloud.

Abbot Klassen stressed the importance of compassionate immigration laws.

“As a nation we desperately need to pass a just and compassionate immigration law that provides a path for citizenship for those who are undocumented, that holds families and brings families together who have been split apart in so many tragic circumstances, that provides legal paths for immigrant workers to come and work in the United States, that restores due process protection, that addresses with other countries the basic reasons for migration in the first place: fear for one’s life and one’s family, poverty and lack of hope for the future,” he said.

“Our church is a strong advocate on immigration reform, but legislative changes such as this need the support of all people.”

Hernandez-Fussy said today’s immigration policy is inconsistent, ineffective and does not support the common good. She said that 11 million undocumented people live in the shadows and are exploited, abused and face the constant fear of being ripped apart from their families. She also advocated for understanding on immigration issues and speaking up for immigrants in the public arena. Reminding the attendees that Joseph, Mary and Jesus were immigrants, she encouraged the audience to see Christ in all.

“As you are gathered at the table saying grace, have the courage to ask your family to pray for the immigrants — your ancestors — that made it possible for your family to be here and pray for all 11 million undocumented immigrants, especially those that will be deported and those celebrating Christmas while their parents, children, and family are thousands of miles away,” she said.