December 3, 2016  |  By:   |  Archbishop Gomez, Press Releases  |  

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Southern California Faithful Unite in Prayer for Peace, Mercy and Immigrant Families

More than 30,000 faithful from Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties marched down East Los Angeles streets today to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of the Americas, inthe 85th annual procession and Mass. This year’s event, themed “Protector of Family,” aimed to encourage the unity of families, center of society. Today’s celebration leads up to the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12, which has been designated as a national day of prayer and solidarity for families of immigrants by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“We gather to pray at a challenging time in our country. Some of our brothers and sisters are scared and worried about the future. So we turn to Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is our tender mother and the protector of our family,” said Archbishop Gomez. “This is a beautiful day in which we place our lives in the tender care of our Mother and the Church. We know she wants to stay close to us, and we know the Church will always stand with her people in love and solidarity. I am always looking forward to this time to come together as a community and support one another,” he added.

The mile-long route of the oldest religious procession in Los Angeles, included colorful floats, equestrian groups, mariachis and indigenous dancers. Catholic school students escorted the Peregrina, the official Archdiocesan pilgrim image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which has been blessed and touched to the original image. Awards were given to three floats that most creatively depicted this year’s theme, “Protector of Family.” Many wore red and green attire to resemble the flag of Mexico where Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to St. Juan Diego.

The procession ended at East Los Angeles College Stadium in Monterey Park. White doves were released as La Peregrina entered the stadium, where Archbishop José H. Gomez celebrated a special Mass in her honor.

Sunday’s Mass also included a special recognition to Msgr. John Moretta, pastor of Resurrection Parish in Boyle Heights, who for nearly 30 years led the Guadalupe Committee, organizers of the event. At the end of Mass, a musical line-up of traditional songs in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe was performed by several singers and mariachi groups, and the faithful venerated the blessed image of Our Lady of Guadalupe with red roses. The pilgrimage and procession are possible because of the collaboration and participation of parish communities throughout the entire Archdiocese.

“I thank her every day for watching over us, she is the True Mother, a real protector. She brought me back to Jesus Christ when I was on the streets 30 years ago,” said Rolando Portillo, a native of East L.A., vice president of the Guadalupanos group and longtime parishioner at Our Lady of Solitude Church in East L.A. who has been attending the Procession and Mass for several decades.

This year’s pilgrimage of the framed traveling images of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego began on September 27 with a first-ever visit to St. Catherine of Alexandria Church in Catalina Island. Thereafter, faithful from more than 40 parishes and five detention centers in the tri-county Archdiocese welcomed the images with worship services and parish celebrations, leading up to today’s procession and Mass in East Los Angeles.

This year marks the 485th anniversary when the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to Mexican indigenous St. Juan Diego in 1531, and asked him to build a church on a hilltop, miraculously leaving her image on his cloak, or tilma as proof of her request to the bishop at that time. Since then, the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe has been a symbol of unity, peace, compassion and hope for people around the world.

For more information about the procession and Mass, please visit

**NOTE: Photos from the event can be made available upon request**