Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 18, 2000
Catholic honour Our Lady
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe packs basilica, draws out brave band of pro-lifers
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Catholics packed St. Joseph's Basilica as well as braving the cold outside the Morgentaler abortion clinic in their efforts to honour Our Lady of Guadalupe on the first time her Dec. 12 feast day has been widely celebrated throughout the archdiocese.
As it is every year, Mass was celebrated at the Spanish-speaking church which bears her name. This year's Mass was celebrated by retired Archbishop Joseph MacNeil.
At St. Joseph Basilica where Archbishop Thomas Collins celebrated Mass, it was shoulder to shoulder seating.
And during the day a small, but dedicated group braved the minus 25C chill to pray the rosary across from the west end abortion clinic.
"She always leads us to Jesus," Collins said during his homily. "She is the model of the perfect disciple of our Lord Jesus . . . who totally gives herself to the will of God."
In his 1999 letter, The Church in America, Pope John Paul, hailed Mary as being "linked in a special way to the Church in the history of the peoples of America."
He also encouraged North and South America to embrace Our Lady as the Mother of the Americas and to celebrate her feast day across the continent. She is widely known among Spanish-speaking Catholics and her feast day is a spectacular event in much of Latin America.
Our Lady appeared to a peasant named Juan Diego in 1531. Her image later appeared on his cloak, which is on display in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. It is the second most visited shrine in the world, after St. Peter's in Rome.
The image has come to be associated with the pro-life movement because it shows her carrying the Christ child in her womb. When Alberto D'Agostini organized the rosary prayer time, there was no doubt that it would fall on Our Lady's feast day.
Although the weather was less than cooperative, he commended the 15 or so people who came throughout the day. The group was blessed to warm their hands every half hour inside the neighbouring Christian Care Centre, an Anglican outreach ministry office.
Father Anthony O'Riordan travelled from Boyle, while Cecile Bergeron made the hour and a half trip from Lafond to participate.
"These are what you call prayer warriors," Bergeron said. "They're here no matter what.
"I really believe in the power of prayer. God does all the work, but we need to ask for it."
For the past 10 years, Joe Kasha, has been part of a small prayer group that gathers every Wednesday morning across from the clinic. His faith motivates him to keep coming. Although there is no sign the clinic is ready for the bulldozers, Kasha is not ready to give up on his prayers.
"You hear the terrible things that go on in (abortion clinics)," said Kasha, 77. "You think that more people would want to stop something like this right away.
"But God's timing is different than our timing."
Kasha has also seen first hand the power of prayer. One couple was about to visit the clinic when they saw Kasha and the prayer group across the street. They were undecided when they approached the prayer group and after a short conversation decided not to go into the clinic.
"You just have to go out there and keep praying."
Although Collins encourages prayer to Our Lady, he added it is "cheap" if we do not put actions behind our prayers.
"We offer this time in prayer to her . . . but that is only the start," Collins said. "It is not enough to pray, not enough to cast roses at her feet. We honour her fully by imitating her.
"By going from adoration to action, that is indeed how we most fully celebrate this feast. It is not enough for us to sing her praises because it is not enough to honour her. Imitate, imitate, imitate."
In honouring Our Lady, Collins suggested working to improve issues such as poverty and violence, both of which Our Lady personally experienced.
In the 365 days until next year's feast day, Collins encouraged parishioners to go beyond their prayers to Our Lady.
"Prayer and worship is not enough unless it is matched with discipleship, with practical effective actions to serve Jesus," he said.