All: RAÚL AYRALA/THE CATHOLIC VOICE
Largest procession honors Our Lady of Guadalupe
Perhaps the largest crowd ever, about 4,000 people, took part in the Diocese of Oakland's 10th annual pilgrimage to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 5, in the 7.5-mile procession through Oakland from St. Louis Bertrand Church in East Oakland down International Boulevard and Lakeshore Avenue to the Cathedral of Christ the Light at Lake Merritt.
"Every year we increase participation a little bit. The weather conditions help," said Hector D. Medina, director of Latino Ministries for the diocese. As always, he said, the crowd more than filled the cathedral and the event center.
Representatives from parishes as far away as Byron, Brentwood and Oakley joined in the event.
Queen of All Saints Parish in Concord brought people in via seven buses.
Many priests walked the full length of the procession. A float and representatives of St. Bede Parish, Hayward, led the procession. Rev. Juan Franco of St. Anthony-Mary Help of Christians was the most animated, singing, praying and talking on the audio system on his parish's float for the entire procession.
Many of the diocese's clergy participated in the walk including Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, and Msgr. Antonio Valdivia. The annual pilgrimage takes place on a Saturday close to the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec. 12), the patroness of the Americas.
Catholic scholars say the dark-skinned image of Mary, known as Our Lady of Guadalupe, also has been identified by leaders of the universal Catholic Church as the face of the new evangelization. The story of how Mary appeared to a poor Aztec Indian in 1531 near present-day Mexico City brought more than 6 million indigenous people into the Catholic faith within a decade.
— Catholic News Service contributed to this report
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