Cardinal Rigali blesses the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Philadelphia’s mother church

By George Gregory
Special to The CS&T

PHILADELPHIA – The festive music of a mariachi band filled the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul as Cardinal Justin Rigali celebrated the annual Hispanic Heritage Mass on Sunday, Oct. 10. Pride and joy were evident as the spanersity of each Latino culture was celebrated with colorful native clothing and traditional customs of prayer.

“This Mass presents the opportunity for Hispanics of all different countries to come together and to praise in the own unique ways our one, true God,” said Sister M. Alba Bonilla, a Dominican Sister of Our Lady of Fatima and a member of the planning committee for the event.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has the privilege of being the spiritual home of immigrants from many nations in North America, South America and Europe, including Mexico, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Colombia, Spain, Argentina, Cuba, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Chile, Peru, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Honduras, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Uruguay and the Dominican Republic. {{more}}

“It is such an honor that in this country, our heritage is being celebrated,” said Noemi Viveros, who is a parishioner of St. Agnes Parish in West Chester. “Our pride in being Latino shows in our native garb and costumes here today,” she said.

The primary theme in the Scripture readings of the day was a theme of thanksgiving, including during times of trial. The Gospel passage from St. Luke was the familiar story of 10 lepers healed by Jesus, and the only one to return in gratitude was a foreigner, who was told by Jesus that his faith had been his salvation.

“This is the faith which helps us to recognize God in the midst of our difficulties and in times of anguish,” Cardinal Rigali said in his homily. “When we see and suffer each day the injustices of not having legal papers; the injustice of being judged as criminals, without worth or dignity; of seeing children separated from their parents and parents of seeing their children not have the opportunity to obtain a just and dignified career through higher learning,” he said.

He assured the congregants that these sufferings are not in vain, but are converted into prayers and grace.

Sister Regina Christine, I.H.M., works in Hispanic ministry at St. Alice Parish in Upper Darby and St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Chester, with a special focus on the family and family living. “I love working with these families, and religious education is my thrust in helping them,” she said.

A group of students from Roman Catholic High School in Philadelphia was also in attendance at the Mass. Christian Sintron, a junior at Roman Catholic and parishioner of Holy Innocents Parish in Philadelphia, said, “Being here is special for me because inspanidual cultures are being acknowledged and appreciated instead of being all lumped together.”

Cardinal Rigali blessed the Cathedral’s recently installed mosaic image of the Patroness of the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe, or La Morenita, as she is affectionately referred to by many. “Gratitude is the reason for the greatest love we can experience,” the Cardinal said. “Because of this, we are called to give thanks and offer praises to our loving God.”

George Gregory is a parishioner of St. Cecilia Parish in Coatesville.