Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This week provides several special Advent celebrations, including the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, on Wednesday, December 12.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patron saint of Mexico and the feast day is a special day for our Mexican brothers and sisters.  This year we will welcome Fr. Carlos Arce, the Vicar for Hispanics within the Diocese of Raleigh, who will preside and preach in Spanish at a vigil mass to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe on Tuesday night at 10:30 pm.  All are invited to join in celebration. Fr. Bruce Bavinger, SJ from St. Raphael’s will also concelebrate.  St. Raphael’s parish has two masses in Spanish every Sunday and cannot safely accommodate the crowds for this special feast.  Our mass has been scheduled in conjunction with St. Raphael’s to provide additional capacity to allow room for all whom this feast is so meaningful.

The feast in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe goes back to the 16th century story of Juan Diego, a 57-year-old widower who lived in a small village near Mexico City. On Saturday morning, December 9, 1531, he was on his way to Mass when a radiant cloud appeared and within it a young Native American maiden dressed like an Aztec princess. The lady spoke to him in his own language and sent him to the bishop of Mexico, a Franciscan named Juan de Zumarraga. The lady provided roses for Juan to carry to the bishop.  When Juan Diego opened his cape in the bishop’s presence, the roses fell to the ground and the bishop sank to his knees. On Juan Diego’s cape appeared an image of Mary exactly as she had appeared at the hill of Tepeyac. It was December 12, 1531.

Many of our second graders will be experiencing the sacrament of reconciliation for the first time this Saturday morning.  Please remember them in your prayers. All are invited to celebrate this sacrament of God’s love and mercy Sunday and Monday evening at 7:00 pm. or Wednesday morning at 11:00 am.

In the peace of Christ,

Fr. Mark