Local News Archive
Print Issue: July 17, 2002
Archdiocesan Mass Celebrates Canonization Of Juan Diego
By Priscilla Greear, Staff Writer
ATLANTA - A July 31 Mass on the field at St. Pius X High School will celebrate the canonization of Mexican Indian peasant Blessed Juan Diego, whose visions of Mary under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe are at the root of Mexican Catholicism.
The 7 p.m. Mass, predominantly in Spanish, will coincide with the actual canonization by Pope John Paul II that day at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Six people from the archdiocese are joining others from around the country on a pilgrimage to Mexico City.
Father Dan Stack, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church, Cartersville, will be the principal celebrant of the Atlanta Mass, sponsored by the Hispanic Apostolate. Father Jaime Molina-Juarez, MNM, parochial vicar at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Smyrna, will preach and Msgr. David Talley, judicial vicar, will read remarks in English on behalf of Archbishop John F. Donoghue.
Following Mass, there will be mariachi music, folkloric dances, refreshments and food to purchase provided by Mexican restaurants. The Mass will be celebrated rain or shine, and in case of inclement weather, people should bring rain gear. La Favorita radio station will broadcast live.
Gonzalo Saldaña, director of the Hispanic Apostolate, called the canonization "a historic moment" for the people of Mexico.
"It's no more (seen as) a myth, it's something that's real, that's been proven," he said. "He was the one who was the key instrument in letting everyone know about Our Lady of Guadalupe."
As Our Lady of Guadalupe is patroness of all the Americas, staff member Silvia Maldonado, a native of Mexico, said the event is for all North and South Americans. "It's a once in a lifetime celebration."
An Indian receiving sainthood has great import for indigenous peoples, she said, who are often lowly in social status. "Sometimes we think because they're Indian or indigenous they're considered less than some others. Because he's Indian and being named a saint-I think that (means) a lot."
The pope will first stop in Toronto for World Youth Day, then travel to Guatemala City for the July 30 canonization of Blessed Pedro de San Jose de Betancur, who founded the Bethlemite order and worked with the poor and sick.
After canonizing Blessed Juan Diego, the pople will beatify two Indian martyrs, Juan Bautista and Jacinto de los Angeles, from the southern state of Oaxaca.
Mary appeared four times in 1531 to Juan Diego, who was declared blessed in 1990, on Tepeyac Hill outside of Mexico City, and instructed him to tell the local bishop of her wish that a church be built there. The bishop complied with the request about two years later after being convinced of the genuineness of the apparition by the evidence of a miraculously painted life-size figure of the Virgin on the mantle of the Indian.
The mantle has been preserved and is enshrined in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, constructed on the site of the peasant's visions, which has a long history as a center of devotion and pilgrimage in Mexico. Our Lady of Guadalupe was designated patroness of Latin America by St. Pius X in 1910 and patroness of the Americas by Pope Pius XII in 1945.
St. Pius X High School is located at 2674 Johnson Road, Atlanta. For information on the celebration call the Hispanic Apostolate at (404) 888-7839.
Also, on Friday, Aug. 2, at 7 p.m. a bilingual celebration will take place in the archdiocese for the canonization of Blessed Pedro de San Jose de Betancur at St. Joseph's Church, 1775 Old Haigmill Road, Dalton. It will be celebrated by Father Leo Nel Patricio Aguilon of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.
For information on the Dalton Mass call (706) 278-3107.