LEWISTON — Bishop Robert Deeley joined with members of the Hispanic community and Lewiston area parishioners on Saturday, Dec. 10 to celebrate the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe (photo album from the celebration available at Bishop Deeley joins with the Hispanic community in celebrating the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe | Diocese of Portland (portlanddiocese.org).

The feast, which is actually Dec. 12, commemorates the Blessed Mother’s appearance to Juan Diego, a humble Aztec Indian, on Tepeyac Hill outside Mexico City in 1531. It’s a day that holds special significance for Hispanic Catholics.

“She is the patroness of Mexico and also of all the Americas, so it is important to us as a Hispanic community to gather and celebrate because she represents us,” said Rosario Starratt, an outreach coordinator for the Portland Diocese’s Office of Hispanic Ministry.

“It’s like, literally, she is our mother, and we are her children, so we always go to her when we have difficulty. We always ask for her intercession to our Lord, so it’s very, very important,” said Arturo Ayala, a candidate for the permanent diaconate, originally from Mexico, who attended the feast day celebration.

The celebration, held at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Lewiston, began with the praying of the Rosary, followed by Mass celebrated by Bishop Deeley, who pointed out to the faithful that the apparition of our Blessed Mother to Juan Diego is the only one in which she appears pregnant, expecting the birth of the Son of God.

“To me, that is one more very powerful sign of God’s care for us and for that beautiful man, Juan Diego, a simple man, given an important message of that love in a very difficult time in the life of him and his people. It is a continual reminder to us of God’s care for us and of God’s will that we, as we see in the pregnancy of the Virgin of Guadalupe, are God’s family,” the bishop said. “So, as we honor Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, we give thanks that God has given us these signs of his love so that, together, we can draw strength from the sacraments, from our common worship and prayer, and go forth to be the people in the world, the bearers of God’s word that God’s calls us to be.”

The Mass was celebrated in both Spanish and English, with the homily delivered by Deacon Arturo Gonzalez from the Diocese of Brooklyn. Deacon Gonzalez shared some of the words the Blessed Mother spoke to Juan Diego and said that her intention then, as it is now, was to point the way to her son, Jesus.

“All her life, all she did, all she said, all she is — is about Jesus. It’s about him. It’s about us knowing that he, who is the truth, the way, and the life, has come to give us life in the fullest, eternal life, that he has come to save us, that he has come to free us, that he has come to transform our lives by giving his own life for us,” Deacon Gonzalez said. “It is in Jesus where we can truly find joy and peace. It is in Jesus in which we can find the strength to be able to overcome the difficulties that we face in life, whatever those may be.”

The Mass concluded with a procession in which a statue of the Blessed Mother was guided down the center aisle of the church. The bishop, priests, and parishioners followed and then gathered in the downstairs church hall to continue the celebration with a meal, music, dancing, and other festivities.

This is the second annual Our Lady of Guadalupe feast day celebration sponsored by the diocese’s Office of Hispanic Ministry, and, as with the first, it drew members of the Hispanic community from several parts of the state, with some traveling many miles to participate. Approximately 150 people attended.

The Mass was concelebrated by Father Michael Sevigny, OFM Cap., the director of the Office of Hispanic Ministry, by Father Frank Morin and Father Philip Tracy, both retired from active ministry but who assist in serving the Hispanic community, and by Father Patrick Finn, parochial vicar of Prince of Peace Parish in Lewiston, which includes the basilica.

In addition to the Mass and festivities at the basilica, celebrations were held on Sunday following Spanish-language Masses at Sacred Heart Church in Portland and St. Michael Church in Cherryfield.