By Emily Drooby
Dancing, music, a Mass performed in Spanish, a procession and a long run in the cold weather. This all done as part of an annual pilgrimage for Our Lady of Guadalupe.
As one runner, Dany Riera, explained: “It’s the least you can do for the mother of God.”
The annual feast and pilgrimage, held on December 12th, pays honor to Our Lady of Guadalupe and her role in the conversion of Mexico from Paganism to Christianity.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Diocese Of Brooklyn said, “This is the day they celebrate that Mary appeared over 500 years ago, now to a Mexican-Indian and started this devotion to our Lady of Guadalupe.”
The festivities kicked off at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph with a noon Mass given by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and concelebrated by twenty other priests. Following Mass thousands of people, mostly Mexican-Americans, poured into the streets while 36 torches set ablaze for the torch run.
Over 2,000 people set out on one of five routes leading back to participating churches in Brooklyn and Queens.
Father Jorge Ortiz-Garay, said: “These 36 parishes are going back to their parish with this torch which means the light of Christ. So, they came here not only to celebrate, but also to revive, to renew their faith.”
Together in groups, parishioners ran and or walked to one of 36 participating Catholic churches. Dany Riera said he will run for at least an hour to reach his Queens church but that it’s all worth it for his faith. Riera said, “It was a wonderful thing that she appeared. It’s a sign of hope. I believe that everyone who is here right now has been called like through God, through her.”
Once pilgrims reach their churches, additional celebrations will occur well into the night. The 500-year-old tradition is celebrated all over the world.