Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Thousands gather in Pasco to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe

Story and photos by Mitch Finley, Inland Register staff

(From the Jan. 14, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)

Gray skies scattered a few insincere snowflakes into the frigid late morning of Saturday, Dec. 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, as some 125 people gathered in the enormous parking lot of Pasco’s Gesa Stadium. Bundled up against the winter weather, folks from St. Patrick Parish formed up to process about a mile to the warmth of Pasco’s TRAC Center. There Bishop William Skylstad joined area priests and deacons to concelebrate the Mass that would be the centerpiece of the day’s celebration.

Leading the procession was a flatbed truck carrying a living tableau which included two 11-year-olds, Valeria Valen-zuela, who portrayed Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Raul Pimentel as St. Juan Diego. On Dec. 12, 1531, the Blessed Mother appeared to Juan Diego and left a miraculous image of herself on his tilma, or cloak. The image is displayed to this day in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Mexico City. Participants in the procession sang, prayed, and danced as they moved toward the TRAC Center.

Among those participating in the Guadalupe procession was a group organized by Pasco’s Rebolledo family. Both men and women wore tilma-like garments draped over the shoulders on which were images of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Each also wore a tall, cylindrical, yellow feathered headdress. Father Daniel Barnett, pastor of Pasco’s St. Patrick Parish, explained that such groups are called matachines, and the costumes are Aztec in origin, “but they are dancing in honor of the Virgin. In our parish,” he said, “we have an all-night vigil … during which people sing and dance, including this group, and also it is our custom to have a procession, which they dance also.”

At the TRAC Center, the procession joined the rest of the 2,500-3,000 people already filling bleachers and row upon row of chairs set up for the Mass. Local Knights of Columbus, in their familiar ceremonial garb – black tuxedos, brightly colored capes, white-plumed chapeaux, white gloves, and ceremonial swords – lined both sides of the pathway used by the priests and deacons as they processed toward the stage on which an altar was set up for the liturgy. Musicians, singers, and altar servers stood or sat to the right of the stage. Songs were in both Spanish and English, and as the liturgy began a small statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe was carried in and set up in front of the stage on which the altar was located.

Prior to the liturgy, Bishop William Skylstad said that “this day itself is a wonderful expression of celebration, from the Las Mañanitas at 5 a.m., to the procession to the church in song and dances, to the celebration of the Eucharist with a reception afterwards. Such a day of celebration leaves a deep imprint on those who participate.”

The entrance procession for the Mass began just a few minutes after 1 p.m., with the entire assembly joining in the entrance hymn, “Las Mañanitas”: “Estas son las mañanitas / Que cantaba el Rey David / Hoy por ser dia de tu santo”. . . “These are the early morning songs / Which King David always sang / Today, the day of your patron saint. . .” Languages for songs and prayers throughout the liturgy alternated between Spanish, English, and Latin. The readings from the Lectionary were proclaimed in both Spanish and English.

In his homily, given alternately in Spanish and English, Bishop Skylstad said, “This special day, so powerful in our church, especially amongst the Hispanic peoples, calls us together here in the Tri-Cities area to celebrate, and well we should.”

Parishioners displayed banners during their procession to the site of the Mass.

Clothing featured images of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Songs during the Mass were sung in English and Spanish.

Knights of Columbus provided an honor guard during the Mass.

Bishop Skylstad concelebrated the Mass with priests of the region.

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