Several members of the Federal Association attended the Western Association’s annual pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City in October. This pilgrimage is held in conjunction with the Mexican Association and is scheduled every year to coincide with the World Day of the Sick held at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The American Association and the Guatemalan Association also participated.
The Western Association’s pilgrimage began two days prior to the World Day of the Sick. On the first day after our arrival, we toured the “new” Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in which Saint Juan Diego’s cactus-fiber tilma is preserved (miraculously) to this day, and we participated in the celebration of Holy Mass in the ornate “old” Basilica. After Mass, we assembled gift bags for orphaned girls, to be presented during a service project the following day. These gift bags were stocked with items brought by participants in their luggage and supplemented with goodies from the Mexican and the Guatemalan associations.
The service project was held at the Our Lady of Peace Orphanage in Mexico City. This orphanage is run by a vibrant order of nuns and serves girls who do not have families to care for them because of death among parents or guardians, financial hardship, or some sort of abuse. Volunteers from the Order of Malta painted a large outdoor retaining wall in the orphanage, painted benches, and worked in the kitchen. Once the work was completed, we shared a late lunch with the girls, the nuns, and other staff members. The gift bags assembled the previous day were awarded immediately after lunch. They were a big hit!
The Mass for the World Day of the Sick at the Basilica for Our Lady of Guadalupe was the highlight of the trip. The Mexican Association organizes this Mass, which is attended by approximately 12,000 faithful who are poor and sick. Some of these pilgrims walk for days to attend and camp out in tents in the main square outside the basilica. The Mexican Association organizes and pays for approximately 100 buses to transport malades to the Mass. They also hand out hundreds and hundreds of bottles of Lourdes water.
Our pilgrimage culminated on the final day with a reception hosted by His Excellency, Don Adolfo Autrey Maza, KM, who is the Consul General of Monaco to Mexico.
Participants in this pilgrimage could not help but be moved by the outpouring of faith among the thousands and thousands of malades attending the World Day of the Sick. The dedication of the Mexican Association, under the leadership of their hospitaller, Monica Cardenas Figueroa, DM, and the nuns who serve the girls at Our Lady of Peace Orphanage was at once both humbling and uplifting. Each was a small reminder of the monumental significance of the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe in December 1531 to the spiritual trajectory of the Americas. As we exclaimed every morning during the pilgrimage: ¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!
Thanks are due to our hosts, Michael Grace, president of the Western Association, as well as Jo Ann Vesco, chief of staff, and Michelle Navarro, pilgrimage coordinator, for Western.