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Socially distant Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration subdued yet hopeful

St. Ann seating accommodates 100 congregants; others tune in from parking lot

by Melanie Jongsma and Josh Bootsma

LANSING, Ill. (December 13, 2020) – Adaptations included limited seating, social spacing, required facial coverings, a single guitarist rather than a full mariachi band, and a children’s procession consisting of five children rather than dozens. Those restrictions dampened the feeling of celebration that normally characterizes the Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass at St. Ann Catholic Church, but participants chose to feel grateful rather than discouraged. “At least we were able to have it,” was the feeling expressed by congregants as well as committee members.

Our Lady of Guadalupe
A lone guitarist accompanied the December 12 Mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Registration was limited to 100 participants, and those spots were completely filled. Other parishioners participated from their cars in the parking lot, tuning in to the service their radios. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Last year, dozens of children were lined up in the crowded church foyer in preparation for the children’s procession, and they entered the sanctuary carrying the traditional roses. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma, 2019)
Our Lady of Guadalupe children
This year’s procession was limited to five children and three Knights of Columbus following at a safe social distance. (Photo: Josh Bootsma, 2020)

December 12 is a Liturgical Holy Day, as declared by the Pope, and it is observed as a national holiday in Mexico. The holiday and the special Mass commemorate the 1531 appearance of a “Lady from Heaven” on a hill northwest of Mexico City. In a typical year, Lansing’s Alberto’s Beauty Salon hosts a 10:00am mass on December 12, and St. Ann holds a weekend service. Both Lansing observances are usually followed by food and fellowship—but not this year. Unable to provide adequate spacing, Alberto’s cancelled the event altogether, leaving St. Ann as the only local option for the faithful.

A brochure emphasized the need to register for the special mass at St. Ann.

Though many of the Scripture readings and instructions were offered in English as well as Spanish, the Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass is entirely in Spanish, led by a guest priest. For many Lansing Latinos, the service is especially meaningful because it is in the language of their hearts.

guest priest
“Our Lady is asking us to trust in God during these times,” said Fr. Jaime Perea (right) in his homily. Fr. Perea is from St Joseph the Worker in Gary, Indiana. Fr. Mark Kalema (left) is the parish priest at St. Ann. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Following the homily and a responsive reading, parishioners were invited to “pass the peace,” and this tradition too has been changed by COVID. Parishioners looked around the sanctuary and waved in greeting, rather than shaking hands or hugging.

Susana Padilla Arteaga led the committee who organized the Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass. During the service she provided instructions for the congregants to receive the elements while maintaining social distance. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Markings on the sanctuary floor indicated the direction from which to approach the priests, the place to consume the host, and the path back to the pews. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
congregants pray
Congregants kneeled in preparation to receive the host. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Fr. Perea (left) and Fr. Kalema (right) donned protective face shields over their masks to administer the sacrament. A congregant receives the host and then steps to the designated area before a second congregant approaches. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

At the close of the service, parishioners were reminded of the newly published bilingual prayer book, available in side-by-side Spanish and English. Though St. Ann does not offer regular masses in Spanish, the book is an attempt to recognize and accommodate the significant membership for whom Spanish is a first language. Prayer cards and roses were also given to parishioners as they departed.

Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe is important not only to Catholics, but specifically to Mexicans—her appearance to Juan Diego in 1531 gave hope to the indigenous Mexicans and the mestizos, and her image is replete with symbolism. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

St. Ann Catholic Parish is located at 3010 Ridge Road in Lansing, Illinois.


Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.