When the U.S. bishops declared Dec. 12 a National Day of Prayer for Migrants and Refugees, it was with an eye to the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dec.12, Latin Americans’ most celebrated religious observance.
In the diocese, Bishop Malooly participated in Guadalupe events on Dec. 11 and Dec. 12 at Holy Angels Church in Newark and St. Paul’s Church in Wilmington.
The bishop shared the U.S. bishops’ message with the Hispanic families of the region who attended the Dec. 11 Mass and procession at Holy Angels and the Dec. 12 Mass at St. Paul’s.
“This is a day of prayer, a time to place before a merciful God our hopes and fears and needs for the families who have come to the U.S.,” the bishop said.
Quoting Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez, a Mexican native, Bishop Malooly said he wants the migrant families in the diocese to know “the church is with them; we offer prayers on their behalf and actively monitors developments at diocesan, state and national levels to be effective advocates on their behalf.”
At Holy Angels, the bishop greeted about 1,000 participants in a rosary procession as they entered the church to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The bishop said he enjoyed the pageantry at Holy Angels and St. Paul’s — traditional Aztec dancers parishioners who brought roses to the event and children who were dressed in traditional Mexican garb.
Father Carlos Ochoa, an associate pastor at Holy Angels, said parishioners at Holy Angels probably participated in events at area parishes, including St. Paul’s, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and Holy Rosary.
‘A generous path to citizenship’
Father Arthur Fiore, pastor of Holy Angels, said the U.S. bishops’ National Day of Prayer for Migrants and Refugees reflected a concern among the immigrants here for their families as the new administration in Washington has discussed stricter policies on enforced deportations.
“Children were hearing all these things abut the wall and deportation and some were afraid that when they came home from school that their parents would be gone,” the pastor said. “Our catechists spoke to them on those fears and they were told we support them, and they won’t be abandoned.”
Bishop Malooly added that the church in the diocese, like the rest of the church in the U.S., knows the polls show Americans want a merciful approach to immigration, “a generous path to citizenship.”
The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe marks the December 1531 appearances of the Blessed Virgin to St. Juan Diego, a Mexican peasant. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of the Americas.