Pasadena church community honored by a pastoral visit, presented with Tepeyac Hill relic

September 27, 2016

PASADENA — The parish community of St. Juan Diego Catholic Church in Pasadena was honored by a visit from Monsignor Diego Monroy Ponce, Episcopal and General Vicar of Guadalupe and Rector at the Basilica de Guadalupe in Mexico City and Spiritual Advisor of the Universal Brotherhood of Guadalupe.

During his visit, Monsignor Ponce presented the parish with a relic — a rock from the Tepeyac Hill where the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego in 1531.

Each evening of the three-day visit, which took place Sept. 5 to 7, began with traditional Matachina dances followed by Mass. 

On the first evening, Monsignor Ponce gave a presentation focusing on St. Juan Diego’s biography. The following evening the parish community came together for an event focusing on the apparitions and evangelization of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Monsignor Ponce’s visit culminated when he and Father Gerald Goodrum, pastor of St. Juan Diego Catholic Church, celebrated Mass after which Monsignor Ponce presented the parish community with the relic.

“It was an honor to have Monsignor Diego Monroy Ponce here at our parish,” Father Goodrum said. “His many years in service to Our Lady of Guadalupe have afforded him an amazing depth of spiritual insight into her apparitions and into the life and legacy of Saint Juan Diego, which he was able to share with us. The three days were glorious, and the community will cherish the experience for many years to come.”

Jose Diego Ponce, a parishioner at St. Juan Diego Church and Monsignor Ponce’s nephew, was onhand to assist in organizing the visit. 

He said his uncle shared and explained how Our Lady of Guadalupe has been honored by popes including St. John Paul II who, during his homily at the Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops in December 1997, proclaimed the importance of “entrusting Our Lady of Guadalupe with the future path of the Church on the great continent of America.” Pope Francis visited the Basilica de Guadalupe on Feb. 13, earlier this year.

Monsignor Ponce also referenced Pope Benedict XVI’s and Pope Francis’s profound devotion to the Holy Virgin of Guadalupe. He cited St. John Paul II’s 1997 homily during which he said that Our Lady of Guadalupe was “the first witness to Christ’s presence in America.”

“Her shrine in the heart of the American continent represents an indelible reminder of the evangelization achieved in the past five centuries," he said. "The Mother of Christ appeared to a humble man, a Native American named Juan Diego. She chose him as the representative of all her beloved sons and daughters of those lands, in order to proclaim that divine Providence calls for the salvation of people of all races and cultures; the indigenous peoples, who lived there centuries ago, as well as people who came from Europe, in order to bring, despite their limitations and faults, the immense gift of the Good News.”

Current parishioners who have been Guadalupanos for nearly four decades, Mercedes and Daniel Juarez said, “We were honored to serve during Monsignor Ponce’s visit to the Church of St. Juan Diego. It was very pleasant and substantial to learn more from the words of the monsignor, especially when he spoke about San Juan Diego and of the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe with such eternal love.”

Monsignor Ponce also presented three gifts: one to Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, another to Auxiliary Bishop George A. Sheltz and the third to Father Goodrum. 

The gifts were given in gratitude of the parish community’s hospitality and for the opportunity to share with St. Juan Diego’s community the message of “La Morenita del Tepeyac” of love and evangelization to communities in Texas.