In the photo above, Matachines religious dancers perform Dec. 9 in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Bernard's Parish, Abbotsford, Wis.
Many Wisconsinites haven't yet come to terms with the fact that the Hispanic community here continues to grow. Last Sunday, I was at St. Bernard's Parish in Abbotsford, where their local presence is probably stronger than anyplace else in the Diocese of La Crosse. That's why the diocese has sent them Father Enrique Castro -- their own Spanish-speaking priest. In tomorrow's paper, there will be an article on this community's vibrant celebration of the Virgin's feast day, as well as on the presence of Father Castro in the diocese.
Until then, Happy Feast Day! -- enjoy these photos and a teaser from the article:
ABBOTSFORD – Apart from the cold weather outside, many of the Abbotsford-area Hispanics who gathered at St. Bernard’s Parish Dec. 9 could have been back in the Mexican state of Durango. For inside the church building, beautifully familiar warmth, music and dancing marked, albeit a few days early, the most cherished of Hispanic feast days: that of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
The church was filled to overflowing for the 1 p.m. Mass celebrated by Father Enrique Castro, a Peruvian priest who has worked hard to bring together Abbotsford’s Hispanics. Father Benjamin Franklin, pastor of St. Bernard’s, as well as Holy Rosary, Owen, and St. Louis, Dorchester, concelebrated.
“Beloved brothers and sisters, we need to say to Mary, ‘Madrecita, today I am in your hands,’” Father Castro urged in fervent Spanish.
Taking St. John the Baptist’s call to repentance from the Second Sunday of Advent as his text, Father Castro’s hard-hitting homily focused on the necessity of change, and of returning to the sacramental life of the Church. “You need to ask whether you can change a little,” he said. “If you don’t do this, what moral authority will you have in your home?”
“Ten fé en mí (have faith in me) – this was Mary’s message to St. Juan Diego,” he said.
In the photo below, Father Castro blesses images of Our Lady of Guadalupe for the homes of his parishioners.