Mass key part of Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Susan Blaze prays to Our Lady of Guadalupe daily, thanking her for her blessings and miracles.
Each year, Blaze, a native of Mexico, celebrates the mother of Jesus with a fiesta worthy of her home country.
“It's like being in Mexico,” Blaze said of the Mass for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, being held Wednesday night at St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland. “We do the typical dances and sing the traditional songs.”
Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik will serve as the principal celebrant for the sixth annual event locally, commemorating the apparition of the Virgin to a Mexican peasant, St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, in 1531.
The Mass is held in coordination with the Latino Catholic community from the parishes of St. Regis in Oakland, St. Paul in Butler and Holy Rosary in Muse, Washington. It attracts nearly a thousand people each year. All are welcome.
The Virgin of Guadalupe is Mexico's most popular religious image. Devotees believe she can perform miracles and cure almost any sickness. Almost 5 million people attend the annual services in her honor in the Basilica of Guadalupe north of Mexico City.
Blaze, 49, moved to Canonsburg to be close to relatives eight years ago. Since then, she has been active in Holy Rosary Church, which hosts a weekly Spanish Mass, to keep her traditions alive for her two daughters.
“I always wanted them to know the customs,” she said.
Blaze said the appearance of the Lady of Guadalupe to peasant Juan Diego was the true beginning of Catholicism in Mexico. Spain brought the religion into the country, but few believed until the Virgin appeared, she said.
“She has performed so many miracles through the years,” Blaze said. “She's part of my daily life. It's like talking to a mother. I cannot even explain it.”
The Rev. Ronald Lengwin called the local Mass “a reflection of faith” and pointed out the importance of “honoring Mary, mother of Jesus, especially at this time of year.”
“It's a very special feast for those who worship here and in Mexico,” he said. “People here want to be part of it.”
Census data show that the Hispanic population grew nearly 8 percent in the 10-county Pittsburgh region from 2010 to 2011. About 5 percent of Western Pennsylvanians regularly speak something other than English, according to Census figures.
Victor Diaz, a member of the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's board, said he has seen an increase in immigrants because of the agency's efforts to attract them. The agency works to recruit workers from other cities with higher Hispanic populations, such as Baltimore, Miami and Houston, that were hit harder than Pittsburgh during the recession.
“We are targeting the labor force,” Diaz said. “Pittsburgh has affordable housing and good schools.”
The Rev. Daniele Vallecorsa, pastor at the Parish of St. Regis and coordinator of Latino ministry in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, said a regional celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe began in 2000 and attracted a few hundred people.
“As the years went by, the number of people grew,” he said. “A lot of non-Latinos wanted to join.”
Vallecorsa called the event “an outward expression of popular religiosity.”
“It allows people to celebrate their faith consistent with what they have done in their home nation,” he said. “They are far from their families and friends. They want to gather with people of their same culture.”
Mariana Munoz, 53, of Canonsburg, said Our Lady of Guadalupe helped her through several difficult times in her life, including two cancer diagnoses and open-heart surgery. Munoz, who is healthy and cancer-free, traveled to the Basilica of Guadalupe after recovering from her successful treatment for lymphoma to pay homage to the Lady.
“I believe in her so much because she's done miracles for me, too,” said Munoz, a Mexico native who moved to Canonsburg for her husband's job in 1990. “Thanks to the Lady of Guadalupe, I'm still here.”
Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Wintry mix of rain, freezing rain and snow bearing down on Pittsburgh area
- 2 arrested in Wilkinsburg shooting
- Woman, 77, dies in Monroeville house fire
- Propel school sends students home because of phone threat
- Psychiatrist: Man accused of setting Homestead fire not competent to stand trial
- Uber gains PUC approval to operate in most of Pa. for 2 years
- Medical examiner identifies man in Pleasant Hills police standoff as Justin Hay
- Pa. police departments worry order on criminal seizures hurts bottom line
- Steelers paying $1M to revive sculpture that graced former Manchester Bridge
- Federal grand jury indicts man for violating poultry law while operating illegal slaughterhouse in his Jefferson Hills home
- Beaver County man arrested in 24-year-old Clinton County cold case