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Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration features reenactment by drama team

Parishioners from St. Margaret Mary Church (Hammond, Ind.) reenact the story of the Lady of Guadalupe’s 1531 appearance to Juan Diego

by Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (December 11, 2022) – It is traditional for All Souls Catholic Parish to hold a celebration and Mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Ann Church each December. This year’s celebration — held Sunday, December 11, at 4 p.m. — was even “more beautiful,” said planning committee member Maria de Jesus Casillas, because it featured a dramatic reenactment of the namesake event, in addition to the processions, dances, costumes, and other vibrant traditions that make up each year’s service.

Seven parishioners from St. Margaret Mary Church in Hammond, Indiana, put together the play, complete with costumes and lighting. They are part of a larger drama team that does a variety of reenactments for special services. December is a busy season for the group.

Their performance took the place of the traditional homily at the Lady of Guadalupe service, following the procession of children, traditional dances, a greeting by Fr. Gary Graf (guest priest from St. Kieran Parish), Liturgies of the Word in Spanish and English, and Gospel readings.

A Procession of the Children is a traditional way to open the Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
The Alma Mexicana dance troupe members wear costumes inspired by the native garb of the indigenous peoples northwest of Mexico City, where the “Lady from Heaven” first appeared. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Following a number of prayers, liturgies, and Scripture readings, the sanctuary is darkened for the homily. Two narrators take their place at lighted lecterns. One asks about the faith traditions, and the other responds by telling the story of Juan Diego and the Virgin of Guadalupe. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Juan Diego (played by Alejandro Favela) kneels at the glowing appearance of the Lady of Guadalupe (played by Angela Chavez). The Lady asks Diego to go to the Bishop and ask for a shrine to be constructed for her. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Juan Diego (played by Alejandro Favela) conveys the Virgin of Guadalupe’s message to the Bishop’s assistant (played by Eraclio Molina). (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Diego (left) is allowed to speak with the Bishop (played by Manuel Mejia). The Bishop asks Diego to return with a sign proving the apparition was real. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
The Lady of Guadalupe sends Juan Diego to the top of the mountain to gather roses, which he brings to her in his tilma, or cloak. She sends him again to the Bishop to fulfill her request for a shrine. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Juan Diego (standing) returns to the Bishop and unfolds his cloak. The roses drop to the ground, and an image of the Lady of Guadalupe appears on the cloth of the cloak. The Bishop and his assistant kneel and ask forgiveness for not believing the Virgin of Guadalupe from the beginning. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Another miracle attributed to the Lady of Guadalupe is the healing of Juan Diego’s uncle, Juan Bernardino (right, played by Gabino Villafuerte), who was gravely ill the second time the Lady appeared to Juan Diego. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Parishioners were enthralled with this new format for telling the traditional story. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Prayers, offerings, and communion followed the homiletic performance, and after the final blessing Fr. Gary Graf invited the drama group to join him for the recessional. From left: Eraclio Molina (Bishop’s assistant), Manuel Mejia (Bishop), Fr. Gary Graf, and Gabino Villafuerte (Uncle Juan Bernardino). (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Following the two-hour service, parishioners and guests enjoyed Mexican coffee, cocoa, and traditional sweets in the narthex before heading home. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

St. Ann Catholic Church is located at 3010 Ridge Road in Lansing, Illinois. The parish that meets there is now known as All Souls Catholic Parish.


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.