Children dressed as St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe wait in line to present flowers to Mary at St. Luke Church in Woodburn Dec. 11. (Isra NJ/St. Luke Parish)
Children dressed as St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe wait in line to present flowers to Mary at St. Luke Church in Woodburn Dec. 11. (Isra NJ/St. Luke Parish)
The rain halted for several hours and a silver moon emerged from behind clouds the night of Dec. 12 as hundreds of worshippers walked into St. Alexander Church in Cornelius. After 24 hours of celebrating their beloved Virgin of Guadalupe, they were not done yet.

“We come together as one family,” Father David Schiferl told the congregation, which filled the church and the vestibule. “It is a wonderful time to celebrate our unity in diversity. Our Lady of Guadalupe brings us together.”

Father Schiferl, wearing a vestment emblazoned with the miraculous image of Mary from 1531, switched between Spanish and English. The Mass was bilingual throughout. A youth mariachi band led music.

Father Schiferl said that in 1531, God had confidence in Mary to proclaim a message in Mexico and Mary had confidence in Juan Diego to spread it, even though he felt too humble.

“Have confidence in Mary,” Father Schiferl said. “Mary is always there to take care of us. She is the best of mamas.”

The night was a culmination of weeks of holy preparation. In October, families in Woodburn, Hubbard and Wilsonville began praying rosaries one a day for 46 days in honor of the 46 stars of the Virgin’s mantle.

The prayer, “in addition to evangelizing, aims to integrate the family and increase devotion to the Virgin,” said Sister Angelica Lopez, a Missionary of the Rosary of Fatima and coordinator of religious education at St. Luke Parish in Woodburn.

Hundreds of faithful took their devotion to Our Lady to the roadways Dec. 8, marching with an image of her from St. Anthony Church in Forest Grove to St. Alexander in Cornelius. They prayed the rosary aloud for four miles in the rain.

“It is a way to thank the Virgin for so many favors she has done for us,” said Silvia Ortiz, who clung to Mary when she was deported in 2007. Ortiz now has proper documents and thanks Our Lady of Guadalupe for that.

On Dec. 11 at St. Luke Church in Woodburn, about 700 devotees brought flowers to honor the Virgin of Guadalupe.

The families, following the cultural tradition, brought their children dressed as San Juan Diego and the Virgin. The little ones prayed with fervor.

Many parishes held dramas of the 1531 Mexico City apparition and surrounding events. The faithful also sang songs until dawn on Dec. 12 to greet and express love and devotion to Mary.

Aztec dancers danced vigorously in churches as a way to show how Mary entered native traditions and sanctified them.

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