December 18, 2015

Parish celebrates 20th annual Mass honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe

Julian Rodriguez, left, and his sister, Naomi, lay red roses at the feet of a statue of the Blessed Mother during the Dec. 11 solemn vigil Mass for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at Our Lady of the Greenwood Church in Greenwood. (Photo by Mike Krokos)

Julian Rodriguez, left, and his sister, Naomi, lay red roses at the feet of a statue of the Blessed Mother during the Dec. 11 solemn vigil Mass for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at Our Lady of the Greenwood Church in Greenwood. (Photo by Mike Krokos)

By Mike Krokos

GREENWOOD—The brother and sister bowed reverently before processing toward the altar. They slowly walked up to a statue of the Blessed Mother and laid red roses at her feet.

For Julian Rodriguez and his sister Naomi, attending the solemn vigil Mass on Dec. 11 to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe was a time to give thanks, especially for Julian, a first-grader at Our Lady of the Greenwood School in Greenwood.

“We consecrated them last year to Our Lady of Guadalupe,” said Yarit Rodriguez, Julian and Naomi’s mother, adding that her son had a brain tumor diagnosed about 1½ years ago, “and Mother Mary helped us a lot to get through that.”

Like many families of Mexican descent, the bond to the Blessed Mother is strong.

“He’s been devoted to Mother Mary forever,” Yarit continued, “and during his surgery and radiation, he had a really strong bond with [her].”

His last MRI showed that Julian’s tumor is stable, she noted, “and everything’s been good.”

The Rodriguez family was among the estimated 500 people who attended the 20th annual solemn Mass at Our Lady of the Greenwood Church in Greenwood.

The annual liturgy was organized by the Committee of Guadalupe, whose members are from the parishes of St. Rose of Lima in Franklin, SS. Francis and Clare of Assisi in Greenwood, St. Barnabas in Indianapolis, and Our Lady of the Greenwood, as well as students at Marian University and Roncalli High School, both in Indianapolis.

As in years past, the opening procession featured individuals carrying flags from countries in North, South and Central America, an offering of roses from members of various parish ministries, members of the Bishop Chatard Assembly Honor Guard of the Knights of Columbus, and Committee of Guadalupe members carrying a framed image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The liturgy included a bilingual reflection in both English and Spanish shared by Our Lady of the Greenwood member Martha McQueen, chairperson of the Committee of Guadalupe.

In his homily, Msgr. Mark Svarczkopf, pastor of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish, said Our Lady of Guadalupe is “universally accepted” as Mother and patroness by many countries beyond the Americas.

“Mary has been, ever since Our Lady of Guadalupe, universally sought after as a protector, as it says in the prayers,” he said, “to protect us and bring about peace and justice.”

She appeared to St. Juan Diego, a humble Aztec Indian in Tepeyac, Mexico, in 1531, “to sustain them from what they thought was an attack against their culture, and their race in general,” Msgr. Svarczkopf added.

The Blessed Virgin Mary is perhaps the image that most Catholics and Christians venerate, he noted.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Msgr. Svarczkopf added, is good at bringing people together, “so that we can together talk about the dignity of the human race, rather than the superiority of one particular race.

“She invites us to work together for justice and peace.”

Manuel de la Rosa portrayed St. Juan Diego at the first solemn Mass celebrated on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe at Our Lady of the Greenwood Church in 1996.

Now in his final year at Indiana University Medical School in Indianapolis, de la Rosa attended this year’s liturgy and was among those who placed a red rose at the foot of the statue of the Blessed Mother.

“[She] has a special role in our lives because she draws others to Christ—especially that holds true for my family,” he said. “She definitely holds a special place in my heart as well.”

De la Rosa, who is of Filipino descent, said the Virgin Mary was venerated by both his grandmother and mother.

“They looked to her as an example of motherhood,” he said. †

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