The apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego began on Dec. 9, 1531. History tells us that there were four apparitions, and they invite us to meditate on how Our Lady has always chosen to speak to the humble and simple of heart and to entrust them with spreading the message that she wishes to communicate to her children. Being that these people have always been the humble and poor, the mission entrusted to them has never been easy to fulfill. Quite the contrary. It has become a cross to bear for the one who has to tell the truth and communicate a message that, at first, is not well understood or received. 

However, we see with great faith that these apparitions have inspired the construction of shrines throughout the world, filled with devotion, and that through the intercession of Our Lady, miracles have been a steady occurrence and have awakened among the faithful a strong and unwavering faith in her Son, Jesus Christ. 

Because the Catholics of our Church throughout the Americas have this love for Mary, celebrating the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a tribute to her that all her children want to observe. Particularly, in our Archdiocese of Washington, a procession through the streets of our city for the Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe has been organized for many years. This coming Saturday, Dec. 14, we will meet at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Washington to walk with Our Lady toward the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.   

We want to do this walk of prayer and petition, especially to pray for all of our immigrant families; for our young “Dreamers” who have been protected by the DACA program; and for those who for many years have been receiving government migrant protection through the TPS program; as well as for the millions of migrants who continue to work day and night to help build this nation, promote the economy, and create a better future for the new generations. Therefore, this procession is a moment of silence in defense of the rights of immigrants and for the dignity of the human person. We know that God will hear us, being that Mary of Guadalupe tells us today, just as she told Juan Diego centuries ago when he was troubled by the cares of this world, “Am I not here, I who am your mother?”

The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe at her shrine in Mexico City draws millions of pilgrims each year. (Photo courtesy of Bishop Dorsonville)

Our love for the Blessed Virgin Mary is strong, and her blessings for all of us are generous. In December, we can walk here in the city, but I would also encourage those who can undertake a pilgrimage to visit Our Lady of Guadalupe in her sanctuary in Mexico City to do so. This is a life-changing moment, and it fills our hearts with generosity. We strive to imitate Mary because we truly love her. 

This year I was invited to visit a house of the Sisters of Mary, who organize a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe once a year. I also visited the work that the community does to support children who have no way of accessing education, since some are very poor, others are orphans. That religious order’s villages for boys and girls in Central America are a powerful work of the miracle of God’s love. There, I had the opportunity to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi with the Sisters of Mary and 3,400 girls who live in one of these villages, in Chalco, Mexico.  

Students at Girlstown operated by the Sisters of Mary in Chalco, Mexico, pray during the Corpus Christi Mass. (Photo courtesy of Bishop Dorsonville)

It was an experience of prayer, of hope for a better future for these future mothers of the region and a world unacquainted with cell phones in the hands of teenagers. The genuine and profound quality of their interpersonal communication and the devotion and love of prayer, in particular to our Lord present in the Holy Eucharist, that these teenage girls had made me reflect on how meaningful and powerful true human encounter is when we use our senses and do not allow ourselves to be overtaken by the wave of electronics that revolves around all of us, leaving us connected but at the same time totally isolated, being that the interaction is with machines, not human beings.

Students participate in a science class at Girlstown in Chalco, Mexico, where young women from the poorest parts of the country receive a Christian education and vocational training. (Photo courtesy of Bishop Dorsonville)

I invite you to visit the website of the Sisters of Mary community and its work. Their online address is worldvillages.org. Also, if you prefer, for more information on the pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe and visit to the Sisters of Mary that will take place on June 12-15, 2020, you can contact Frances Popp at 443-837-0969.

You are invited to join our archdiocese’s Walk with Mary honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 14 at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Washington, where the procession begins at 11:30 a.m. Let us walk with Mary and pray for our migrant families. 

(Bishop Dorsonville serves as an auxiliary bishop of Washington.)


Students receive vocational training at Girlstown operated by the Sisters of Mary in Chalco, Mexico. (Photo courtesy of Bishop Mario Dorsonville)

About the Sisters of Mary

Venerable Aloysius Schwartz, a missionary priest from Washington, D.C., whose cause for sainthood is under consideration, founded the Sisters of Mary in 1964 to join his work in serving poor children around the world. Msgr. Schwartz died in 1992 of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease. Just before his death, the priest told a journalist that he wanted his epitaph to read simply, “He tried his best for Jesus.” Today more than 370 Sisters of Mary continue the work of “Father Al” in operating charitable programs in the Philippines, South Korea, Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, Honduras and Tanzania, providing homes, a Christian education, vocational training and hope for a brighter future to more than 20,000 poor children each year.