Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Helena Rodriguez: Freedom Newspapers

While millions of pilgrims flocked to churches in Mexico and the United States on Monday for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, area Catholics celebrated with a 6 a.m. mañanitas in Clovis and an evening rosary in Portales.

Three hundred people filled the pews at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Clovis for the mañanitas, or serenading, of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The event marked the 474th anniversary of when the Virgin Mary was believed to have appeared to an Indian boy, Juan Diego, at the mountain of Tepeyac near Mexico City.

Since then, this sometimes controversial religious icon, believed to be the mother of Jesus, has been the subject of numerous alleged apparitions and was named “Patroness of the Americas” by the late Pope John Paul II.

In honor of this feast day, a torch was carried across the border into the United States as part of a two-month relay from Mexico City to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City to raise awareness of immigration issues.

For more than 30 years, Martha Tellez of Clovis has attended the mañanitas at Our Lady of Guadalupe and was there again for the service, which included songs by a combined Spanish choir from Clovis and Texico and a mariachi singer.

“This is a part of our culture. We may be born in the United States, but Our Lady of Guadalupe is still ours. She is very dear to our hearts because she is the emperess of the Americas,” Tellez said. “She is also the namesake of our church.”

In Portales, where a small family observation was held at the home of Honorio and Marta Castillo, Marta said, “I love my mother so much, so I always sing her the mañanitas on Mother’s Day. Well Our Lady of Guadalupe is my mother too. It was because of her that Jesus came, so I respect her like I respect my mom.”

Castillo, who is from Chihuahua, Mexico, recalled her childhood days when she and her brother, Mario Aguirri, along with their family, would walk a two-mile trek with a statue of the Virgin Mary in a wagon to a church. She also recalled the excitement she felt during the two times she attended the feast day at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

Aguirri, who is studying to become a deacon at St. Helen Catholic Church in Portales, led the accordion music for the family celebration and tested children on their knowledge of the Bible, the rosary and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

“Many times people are ignorant and accuse us of worshiping Mary and other saints, but we only venerate her,” Aguirri said. “Only Jesus can perform miracles, but we believe Mary can ask Jesus and that’s why in the ‘Hail Mary” prayer we ask her to pray for us.”

Aguirri said that he hopes to plan a church-wide celebration at St. Helen’s next year.