It's a special week for at least one church in Newton, as Our Lady of Guadalupe parish will be celebrating the feast of its namesake and patron saint through Our Lady's feast day (Dec. 12).
As part of the celebration, many special events will be held for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe through the week, including special rosaries, dances and a bilingual mass at 7 p.m. Thursday.
"This is to kind of say thank you and to honor her. Our Lady of Guadalupe is Mexico's patron saint. We believe she's our mother and this is a way to honor her; she intercedes for us and brings us closer to God," said Aidee Torres, one of the organizers of the church's festivities.
Monday saw the start of the festivities, with a pilgrimage from the corner of First and Old Main streets to the church bringing the parish together. Additionally, the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe were re-enacted as part of the celebration.
Our Lady of Guadalupe — a vision of the Virgin Mary — appeared to Juan Diego (and his uncle) four times between Dec. 9 and Dec. 12, 1531, each time asking Juan to speak to the bishop and request a temple be built on the site of her initial appearance. The final time, on Dec. 12, she sent Juan Diego forward with a sign to bring to the bishop — flowers collected from the site of her appearance on Tepeyac Hill and her image imprinted on the tilma Juan used to collect those roses. Finally convinced, the bishop followed the wishes of Our Lady and built the temple (which still stands today in what is now a suburb of Mexico City).
During a children's rosary on Tuesday, flowers are requested to be brought as a special offering to Our Lady. Torres noted special petitions will be made for the children of the parish and their families, while the children will also participate in the ministry of the rosary.
Not the only special rosary (considered a gift from Mary) that will be offered through the week, a family rosary will also be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 11, another way to bring the parish closer together through celebration of Our Lady's feast.
"It's just an important time for us to celebrate and to teach the younger generation, too. We want them to come to know her and to know that she's our mother and she can intercede for us, that she can bring us closer to God," Torres said. "It's just a special time to teach them so hopefully they would continue with this tradition."
Special to the parish, considering Our Lady of Guadalupe's role as patron saint of the church, Torres said it is still an event that is open to the the community and everyone is welcome to join in the celebration — which will also feature dinner, dances (including performances by the Matachines) and social gatherings each night through Thursday.
For nearly as long as Torres has been in Newton, the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe has been an almost week-long celebration and is one that means a great deal to the church community.
"This day is a great reminder of the way that she has helped us both personally, but also the Mexican community that's been here in Newton for a long time," said Fr. Devin Burns, parish priest. "I hope it's just a chance to be guided together as a community and the church to pray, but also to celebrate with one another; a chance to be together, enjoy that time together and build up some of that community in the Spanish and English-speaking populations."
"We're all one family and it's a special time to get together and to pray as a family, and to honor our mother," Torres said. "She played such an important role in our faith. She said yes. Her faith and trusting God has always been there and she's a role model for us."
More information on the Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration and a schedule of events can be found online at olgnewtonwebsite.wixsite.com/olgnewton.