More than 600 members of Sydney's Latin American Catholic community gathered on Sunday to celebrate Mass and honour Our Lady of Guadalupe. Source: Catholic Outlook.
The annual Santa Maria Festival brings together Sydney’s Spanish–speaking Catholic communities from South American countries such as Chile, Nicaragua, Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay, and Colombia.
The festival is held in honour of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas, and also celebrates Latin American Catholic culture in Sydney.
Bishop Rolando José Alvarez Lagos of Matagalpa Diocese in Nicaragua was principal celebrant for the Mass, celebrated at The Good Shepherd Parish in the western Sydney suburb of Plumpton.
Concelebrating the Mass was Fr Luis Herrera, chaplain to the Spanish–speaking community in Parramatta Diocese and other local clergy.
“This festival brings us together and is the main event for the Spanish-speaking communities in Sydney,” Fr Herrera said. “We have Mass, we share our food together, our dances and our cultural performances. The most important thing is that we are together.
“We hold this event in honour of the patron saint of Latin American, Our Lady of Guadalupe. Every year, we have a bishop from a different country in Latin America.”
Bishop Lagos, who earlier this year narrowly escaped an ambush attempt, described life in Nicaragua as “getting worse” and “very hard”.
Meeting Hispanic Catholics in Sydney, he found a “people with a lot of faith and people with Christ as fundamental in our lives”.
Bishop Lagos defined the importance of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Hispanic Americans.
“In Our Lady of Guadalupe, we have found our identity. She is our mother. She is our common union with our blood, our soil, our culture, with our Indigenous people, the Indoamericana.”
His message to Hispanic Americans in Australia was simple. “Keep strong in our faith and our culture. Stay united in faith.”
Touching on Pope Francis, Bishop Lagos described the Holy Father as a “big gift” for the “rest of world” and a gift to “every society.” Pope Francis, Bishop Lagos said, can unite his “Latin American faith and spirituality” with that of the Universal Church.
“We [Latin Americans] are not better, we are just different. We can express our faith differently.”
Virgin of Guadalupe honoured by Sydney’s Hispanic Catholics (Catholic Outlook)