By Armando Machado | Correspondent
At this year’s “Antorchas Guadalupanas,” Emilia Olivos will be helping to honor Mother Mary as she appeared to Juan Diego in 1531 under her title of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“This is more than honoring tradition – this is about faith, our Catholic faith,” Olivos said. “It is about honoring the Mother of God – Our Lady of Guadalupe. I believe very much in the Blessed Virgin.”
Olivos, a longtime parishioner of St. Barnabas Parish, Bayville, is part of the colorfully clad parish dance group Las Inditas de San Barnabas. Wearing traditional clothing of indigenous peoples of Mexico, the group will be one of many multicultural troupes participating in the Diocese-wide pilgrimage being held Dec. 2 in Trenton in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
During the celebration, diocesan faithful will join as one family as seven torches honoring Our Lady, currently journeying throughout the Diocese, reach their final destination, St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, for a noon Mass to be celebrated by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M. The gathering will feature a procession and a post-Mass celebration with music and dance entertainment, many of which will be provided by Hispanic ministries across the Diocese.
Olivos, a married mother of four and grandmother of one, said the parish dance group has about 55 members, though normally 20 to 25 perform at events. She and her two grown daughters participated in last year’s “Antorchas Guadalupanas” – and the three plan to again this year.
“Todo fue muy bien – muy bonito [Everything went very well – it was very beautiful],” Olivos said of last year’s celebration. “My hope is that this celebration continues to unite us more as Latinos, as brothers and sisters – especially now with all that is going on with immigration. We cannot lose faith.
“My hope also is that our Catholic Church continues to grow,” she said.
Olivos said Las Inditas de San Barnabas has been practicing since September for this year’s event. The group will participate in the 3.8-mile procession through the streets of Trenton as well as the post-Mass celebration. She added that she has fond memories of performing with a similar parish dance group during her younger years in her native Mexico – in the town of San Bernardino.
Like Olivos, Betty Morales of St. Rose of Lima Parish, Freehold, is also looking forward to taking part in the festivities. Morales participated in the Diocese’s Nov. 4 pilgrimage to Washington along with the parish’s mariachi group, Pascua Juvenil, which performed on the steps of the nation’s Basilica and the recessional after Mass. The 12-member group, which consists of children, teens and adults, participated in last year’s “Antorchas Guadalupanas” as well.
“This is all part of the evangelization – spreading the word about our Mother Mary,” said Morales, a married mother of two. “She is a very important part of the faith. My Catholic faith is the strength of my life [la fuerza de mi vida] … I teach my children about God. I teach my children about the Blessed Virgin.”
Morales is an active parish volunteer, including helping with the religious education program. “I help teach the children about the Holy Bible, so that they can grow closer to Christ,” she noted. “When people listen to our music, my hope is that they listen closely to the words – the message of the Lord. It is the music of God.”