St. Mary Parish in Athens celebrated Our Lady of Guadalupe in both November and December.
In November the parish received an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe as part of a Knights of Columbus initative that brought three such images to parishes around the country. The image was blessed by Pope Benedict XVI and touched to St. Juan Diego’s Tilma containing the original image at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. The image also contains soil from the hill at Tepeyac, where the apparitions of Mary occurred in 1531.
Beginning with a solemn procession Nov. 11 of more than 300 St. Mary faithful from the bottom of the church driveway into the sanctuary, with a prayer service following, the icon was placed in the sanctuary, where it remained for the week.
On Nov. 14, parishioner and deacon candidate Scott Maentz presented the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the St. Mary teen youth group. After the presentation, some of the youth acted out the story of the apparitions and Juan Diego’s visits to the bishop. Many of the teens then went into the sanctuary to pray a decade of the rosary in front of the image.
On Nov. 16, diocesan director of Hispanic Ministry Lourdes Garza visited St. Mary Church to share her knowledge of Our Lady of Guadalupe. She repeated her presentation in Spanish on Nov. 17.
The week concluded with a Mass on Nov. 18 before the image was transported to the next location in East Tennessee.
On the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dec. 12, St. Mary held a Mass with nearly 200 people in attendance. A new statue of Our Lady was carried on a wooden platform before the Mass in procession from the entrance, through the parking lot, and into the church. A fiesta in the family life center followed Mass.