Novena of Our Lady of Guadalupe 2011

The 2011 Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe was one of the most beautiful and well attended in years at Holy Cross-Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish. In part, this was due to the involvement of young people in preparing for the novena, which touched upon the symbols of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Isaias Leal, an undergraduate student of anthropology at the University of Michigan, helped prepare about 50 parish leaders, ministers and youth for the Novena with a reflection on the symbols involved in the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Isaias also speaks Nahuatl, the language of the Aztec Indians and he brought a new appreciation and understanding of the story of Juan Diego. 

The symbols were explored in creative ways and the expression of what they meant for the Aztec people at the time of Juana Diego helped to identify values and brought meaning to life today for the people of the Back of the Yards neighborhood. The days were organized by groups and engaged many people in the following ways:

December 3rd – “El Pueblo En March” – People on the move – was literally lived out as young people dressed in the Aztec Indian traditional dancing costumes danced and marched to drums made by the college students from Immaculate Heart of Mary to Holy Cross Church. Bishop Plácido Rodriguez provided reflections for the many people who walked and attended the opening prayer service.


December 4th – “El Rostro Feminino de Dios” – the Feminine Face of God – Revealed in the wonderful presentation by mothers of the parish as they spoke about their responsibilities and experiences with families and children in the neighborhood. The moms involved parents from the program “Padres Ayundando Padres” (Parents Helping Parents).

December 5th – “Las Estrellas” – The Stars –  provide a guiding light as we work to walk together and find a more just and caring way to live as a community. This evening Marco Lopez provided a wonderful reflection using scriptures and the Nican Mopohua, the story of our Lady of Guadalupe.  Mayra Lopez, a community organizer for The Resurrection Project, also spoke of her experience of organizing in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. The parish works to build an active organizing leadership to help address immigration reform, educational supports, housing issues, recreational services, tutoring and much more to help our families.

December 6th – “El Maiz” – The Corn – Isaias mentioned in his presentation to our leaders, “Her image is in the shape of a corn” – this resonated with many and the group presented all the social services of the parish that provide others in need with “sustenance” and “prosperity” – all the kernels make up corn. So too, in the parish, all the service are joined together to provide for the needs of so many.  The presentation highlighted, among others, Casa Tepeyac (SOS Children’s Village), Casa Romero (after school programming), Casa Catalina (Catholic Charities Basic Social Services for the needs of food and clothing, legal, health, etc.)  and IHM where ESL/GED classes are offered.

December 7th – “Las Flores” – The Flowers – of the community can be discovered in the music and arts of the parish programs.  And so, at the mass, dancers and instruments which included the parish mariachi and marimba, as well as the choirs, provided reflective music and thought in the expressions of beauty. The Parish youth Woodshop and the college student drummers also presented their works of art. The Ballet Folklorico from the Back of the Yards Council provided the dancing, as well as the entertainment for the reception afterwards.


December 8th – “El Color Verde” – the Color Green – another new insight for parish novena organizers was a color that represents hope, found in the jade so valued by Aztec Indians. Leading the Eucharistic celebration for the evening, Fr. Hector Návalo spoke about the color, and Edy Dominguez sang entitled “Color Esperanza”.  Josefina and Miguel Villalobos offered a powerful testimony regarding miracle of life they encountered when they recovered from life threatening illnesses. Anointing of the sick was a part of the celebration for the hundreds who attended.


December 9th – El Sol y La Luna” – the sun and the moon – Organized by college students, the young people processed in with candles, and a symbol of the sun and moon. Four of the organizers provided testimony during the time of the homily, speaking about how they have resolved to bring light to others in the next year by 1) Not just saying what they will do, but acting on it; 2) Taking negative thoughts and making them positive; 3) Overcoming fear, by not letting fear stop them from what they need to do for education and life; 4) taking a lesson from the making of a drum and knowing that if you put your mind to doing something you can do it! Dream big!  The novena was a great experience of wisdom for the people who attended.

December 10th – “El Norte – Lugar de Muerte y Nuestros Antepasados” – The North, a place of death and buried ancestors – Learning that Our Lady of Guadalupe actually appeared over an ancient burial ground, and was a sign of new life rising from the new moon, children from the Religious Education program presented a memorable play of Our Lady of Guadalupe as they acted out sections read from the Nican Mopohua.  Hundreds of children processed at Holy Cross Church and participated in the mass. Afterwards, a reception included a clown who entertained the children.


December 11th – “Está en Cinta” – Pregnant – the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe provides a sign of new life to come for all who live with hope and the values presented during the entire Novena!  And while we live amidst the difficulties of life today, there is hope tomorrow. The Immigration Committee organized the novena for this evening, and in the context of the liturgy, presented a play on several ways people in the Back of the Yards face challenges. The people were presented with challenges facing the undocumented including a pregnant woman who could not return to Mexico to bury her parent, a student who could not receive financial aid, and the family member who is working hard but is not receiving just wages and cannot complain without fear of being threatened by the owner with deportation… all because of the unjust laws of the current immigration system. The committee passed out a prayer for immigration with resources for legal assistance.