Guadalupana, a Growing Tradition
Diocesan Parishes Celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe with Masses, mañanitas and more
By Margarita Mendoza, El Observador Editor
December 19, 2019
DIOCESE—Every year thousands of people attend parishes to participate in the Solemnity of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This year was no exception. 
Starting on the night of Dec. 11 in parishes of the Rockford Diocese, particularly in those with Spanish language Masses, thousands gathered to sing “Las Mañanitas” to the patroness of the Americas. 
The songs were sung with mariachi bands, Mexican bands or parochial choruses in churches specially decorated with hundres of flowers, especially roses.
Bearing bouquets, children and adults dressed like St. Juan Diego or wearing indigenous-type clothes, gathered for praise dances, reenactments of the apparition of the Virgin to St. Juan Diego, and fellowship.
The festivities in honor of Our Lady  of Guadalupe continued through her solemnity on Dec. 12.
For many people this is a long-standing tradition. One of those is Martha Martínez, a parishioner of St. Joseph in Elgin. She has been part of Guadalupana celebration since she was a little girl. 
“It is something very traditional for Mexicans. (For me) since I was little.  In this same church our parents started the celebration more than 50 years ago. Now, I can say that no one does it as Father Jesús,” she said.
Father Jesús Dominguez is the pastor of St. Joseph in Elgin.
On the other hand, for some, life circumstances have made them more recent devotees of the Virgin of Guadalupe and her celebration. 
It is “very beautiful... and it is very important because she is the mother of all Mexicans,” said a parishioner who attended Las Mañanitas at 11 p.m. on Dec. 11 at St. Joseph. 
“I always come at this time. I have been coming for three years,” she said, asking to remain anonymous.  “I started (because of an incident) 10 years ago in Los Angeles. I (have) been doing this since my only child was kidnapped and killed,” she said. “Since then, I do this every year. This activity gives me strength to continue.” 
The celebration brings so many people to parishes, in some of them more parishioners than on a Sunday Mass. “In St. Mary, Elgin the Church was full, it looked like a Sunday,” said Father Jorge Loaiza, parochial vicar here.  
The Mexican celebration evokes in the readings and enacts one of the phrases Our Lady told to St. Juan Diego, “Am I not here, who am your mother.” 
At the end,  refreshments that usually  include tamales, chocolate bread and champurrado, a Mexican hot chocolate drink, are served for those who attended the Mass or prayers.