Click to play an audio version of this article —
by Melanie Jongsma
LANSING, Ill. (December 17, 2021) – The Virgin of Guadalupe is an important figure in Mexican culture and Catholic history. As explained by sancta.org, a “Lady from Heaven” appeared in 1531 to Juan Diego, a poor Indian with no social standing, and gave him instructions about building a temple. For Mexican Catholics, the Lady’s choice of a commoner is a reminder that both Mary and God care about people from all levels of society. Evangelical Christians find similar affirmation in the Bible’s account of the infant Jesus’ birth in a stable and the angelic announcement to lowly shepherds.
In 1999 Pope John Paul II declared December 12 a Liturgical Holy Day for all of Mexico, and the day is celebrated annually with a Mass and a feast. Particularly for Lansing’s first-generation Latinos, this day is a poignant reminder of home, family, and faith traditions. Celebrating the Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass each year provides opportunities to remind younger generations, especially those who grew up in America, of the richness of their culture and beliefs.
The Lansing Journal was allowed to video the celebration at St. Ann Church last Sunday afternoon. The mass was planned as a bilingual celebration co-led by St. Ann’s Fr. Mark Kalema and Fr. Gary Graf of St. Agnes/St. Kieran. However, as he was in the process of putting on the vestments, Fr. Kalema was called away suddenly to offer last rites. Fr. Graf therefore led the Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration alone.
The first video below is a 14-minute sampling of the traditions and symbolism involved in the two-hour mass. The second video provides an “extended cut” of the celebration, including the full homily offered by Fr. Graf.
Reporter’s note: I am grateful to members of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Planning Committee, pictured below, who answered my questions and helped me understand the service. Any incorrectly identified segments or people in the videos are my errors, and I offer my apologies.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebration – highlights
Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebration – extended cut
St. Ann Catholic Church is located at 3010 Ridge Road in Lansing, Illinois. The parish that meets there is now known as All Souls Parish.
- St. Ann Parish to join with St. James and St. John as one parish (March 18, 2021, article)
- Socially distant Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration subdued yet hopeful (December 13, 2020, article)
- One Lady of Guadalupe, two celebraciones (December 17, 2019, article)