Downtown Houston celebrates Our Lady of Guadalupe at annual procession, Mass

December 23, 2014

HOUSTON — Drums, costumes, music and dancing filled the streets of downtown Houston on Dec. 7 — all in an expression of devotion and thanksgiving to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of the Americas. 

The festivities are an ancient Mexican tradition to celebrate the anniversary of the Virgin Mary's appearance to a humble Mexican peasant, Juan Diego, in 1531. 

The procession began at noon at the Archdiocesan Chancery Office and ended at the George R. Brown Convention Center with a Mass at 5 p.m. celebrated by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo. 

Scores of matachines, or indigenous folk dance troupes, mariachis and other singers, as well of hundreds of families participated in the procession and Mass.

More than 5,000 people joined in this year's celebrations. 

In an effort to include all Catholics, whether they speak Spanish or not, presentations were conducted in English and Spanish. "A lot of our members don't speak Spanish, but they said, ‘I want to be with you,'" said Margie Casarez, president of the Guadalupana Association, who sponsors the annual celebration. "We want to do whatever it takes to involve everyone." 

Started in 1972 by a small group of like-minded people to honor and promote devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Archdiocese's Guadalupana Association has flourished over the decades, reflecting the overall growth of the Hispanic community. Casarez said the association now counts dozens of groups representing Archdiocesan parishes, all of which make preparations throughout the year for this all important day. 

"This celebration is the culmination of the year-long activities that take place in Catholic parishes throughout the Archdiocese, all with distinct characteristics and with different ways to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe," she said. "Some are large groups, some are small ones, but all have the same devotion to her and her Son, Jesus Christ."

Typically celebrated on Dec. 12, the feast day is scheduled earlier by the Guadalupana Association to allow parishes to have their own celebrations. 

"Our Lady of Guadalupe forms a strong bond among all Guadalupanos throughout the Archdiocese," Casarez said. "She brings us together as one holy family."