The following comes from a December 3 ADLA news release:
More than 30,000 faithful from Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties marched down East Los Angeles streets today to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of the Americas, in the 85th annual procession and Mass. This year’s event, themed “Protector of Family,” aimed to encourage the unity of families, center of society. Today’s celebration leads up to the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12, which has been designated as a national day of prayer and solidarity for families of immigrants by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“We gather to pray at a challenging time in our country. Some of our brothers and sisters are scared and worried about the future. So we turn to Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is our tender mother and the protector of our family,” said Archbishop Gomez. “This is a beautiful day in which we place our lives in the tender care of our Mother and the Church.
We know she wants to stay close to us, and we know the Church will always stand with her people in love and solidarity. I am always looking forward to this time to come together as a community and support one another,” he added.
The mile-long route of the oldest religious procession in Los Angeles, included colorful floats, equestrian groups, mariachis and indigenous dancers. Catholic school students escorted the Peregrina, the official Archdiocesan pilgrim image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which has been blessed and touched to the original image. Awards were given to three floats that most creatively depicted this year’s theme, “Protector of Family.” Many wore red and green attire to resemble the flag of Mexico where Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to St. Juan Diego.
The procession ended at East Los Angeles College Stadium in Monterey Park. White doves were released as La Peregrina entered the stadium, where Archbishop José H. Gomez celebrated a special Mass in her honor.
Sunday’s Mass also included a special recognition to Msgr. John Moretta, pastor of Resurrection Parish in Boyle Heights, who for nearly 30 years led the Guadalupe Committee, organizers of the event. At the end of Mass, a musical line-up of traditional songs in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe was performed by several singers and mariachi groups, and the faithful venerated the blessed image of Our Lady of Guadalupe with red roses. The pilgrimage and procession are possible because of the collaboration and participation of parish communities throughout the entire Archdiocese.