Thousands of people took part in the Diocese of Oakland's eighth annual pilgrimage to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 7, in what Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, described as "a great public expression of our Catholic faith."
"I'm impressed about how many people are here, how many parishes, how many floats, youth groups, dancers and music," he said.
He celebrated Mass in Spanish, joined by many priests.
A special guest this year was Bishop José de Jesús Madera Uribe. "I have participated in several pilgrimages, but this one is a pilgrimage that impacts, because of the participation of many parishes. It is an expression of faith that springs from the heart," said Bishop Madera.
He was the homilist and told the crowd the story of the apparitions of the Virgin of Guadalupe to the Indian Juan Diego in 1531.
Bishop Madera, formerly a priest of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit in Southern California, was one of the pioneers of Masses said in Spanish and of the Hispanic Ministry in the Diocese of Oakland, according to Msgr. Antonio Valdivia. In 1967, after a mission in the Oakland diocese, Father Madera asked Bishop Floyd L. Begin for permission to celebrate the first modern Spanish Mass at St. Bernard Parish.
Bishop Madera was appointed bishop of Fresno in 1980 and later auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services. He is 86, retired and lives in Los Angeles.
Bishop Madera said he was excited to participate in the Oakland diocese's growing pilgrimage. This year, there were 18 floats, 15 dance groups, 20 parishes represented and more than 5,000 participants. With the cathedral full, three giant screens were placed in the Event Center to accommodate the crowd.
The pilgrimage began in 2006, when there was no cathedral. Mass was celebrated in front of Lake Merritt. Now, the event is organized by diocesan priests and the office of Latino Ministry.
The Guadalupana Committee meets the fourth Monday of each month with representatives of 15 parishes to plan this event. The cost of the pilgrimage is covered by donations from parishes and individuals, said Héctor Medina, coordinator of Latino Ministry.
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