By CECILE SAN AGUSTIN
PATERSON - It was a celebration of faith and culture for Hispanics of the diocese who came together Oct. 27 at St. John the Baptist Cathedral here for the annual diocesan Hispanic Heritage Mass. Parishioners from 20 Hispanic countries were represented at the Mass, many wearing their native dress and holding high their colorful flags representing nations in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean islands.
Bishop Serratelli was the main celebrant of the Spanish-language Mass which was followed by fellowship, music and food in the Bishop Rodimer Center at the cathedral.
The diocesan Hispanic Commission coordinated the event with this year's theme honoring Maria, Madre Peregrina or Mary, the Pilgrim Mother. As part of the celebration, 20 images of Mary from each of the different Latin American countries made a pilgrimage to the homes of parish families weeks prior to the Mass and then were brought to be placed at the foot of the cathedral's altar.
Hispanics have a great devotion to the Blessed Mother. In fact, each Latin American country has a different Marian feast day.
The images that traveled from home to home include some familiar manifestations of Mary such as Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexico) and Our Lady of Divine Providence (Puerto Rico). Some less familiar images include Our Lady of the Angels (Costa Rico) and Our Lady of the Eastern 33 (Uruguay).
Yadira Moharita, president of the diocesan Hispanic Commission and parishioner of St. John Cathedral, said, "In almost every Hispanic home, there is an image of Mary. The Hispanic people love and feel at peace with Mary. When I was a little girl, my prayer was always to Mary."
A procession took place during the celebration with the images of Mary carried by a representative of the country.
The celebration also featured mariachi musicians, dancers from Mexico and Peru and testimonies from families who encountered the image of Mary that made pilgrimage into their home. The Hispanic Commission also honored Diana Mejia from Morristown with its "Amistad" award.
Awilda Paulino, a member of the Hispanic Commission and parishioner of Our Lady of Victories, Paterson, said she felt great pride being at the Hispanic Heritage Mass. Born in Paterson, her parents came to the United States from Puerto Rico in 1955.
"I feel so happy to see the Hispanic community come together in celebration and really show its love for Mary and the Catholic faith."
Manny Morna of St. Therese Parish, Paterson, who is from Panama, said seeing the images of Mary brought tears to his eyes. "It created some kind of good feeling in me seeing the images of her. I feel very happy today," he said. "We want to thank the Lord that the rain stopped so we can celebrate this big occasion that we've been waiting for days and weeks. It was a great success."
Marian Feast Days in Latin America
Jan. 21, Our Lady of Altagracia (Dominican Republic)
Feb. 2, Our Lady of Copacabana (Bolivia)
Feb. 3, Our Lady of Suyapa (Honduras)
May 8, Our Lady of Lujan (Argentina)
July 9, Our Lady of the Rosary Chiquinquira (Colombia)
July 16, Our Lady of Carmel of Maipu (Chile)
Aug.2, Our Lady of the Angels (Costa Rica)
Aug. 15, Our Lady of La Antigua (Panama)
Sept. 8, Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre (Cuba)
Sept. 11, Our Lady of Coromoto (Venezuela)
Sept. 24, Our Lady of Mercy (Peru)
Oct. 7, Our Lady of the Rosary (Guatemala)
Oct. 12, Our Lady Aparecida (Brazil)
First Saturday in Nov., Our Lady of the Eastern 33 (Uruguay)
Nov. 19, Our Lady of Divine Providence (Puerto Rico)
Nov. 21, Our Lady of El Quinche (Ecuador)
Nov. 21, Our Lady of Peace (El Salvador)
Dec. 8, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception (Nicaragua)
Dec. 8, Our Lady of Caacupe (Paraguay)
Dec. 12, Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexico)