MARION — Gisela de La Cruz walked up the aisle of the tiny church on her knees as she carried a bouquet of flowers in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Her gift was one of many vases of flowers and roses that adorned the altar of Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission at St. Gregory Church on Dec. 11 to celebrate the Mass for the patroness of the parish’s migrant community. The celebration also included a re-enactment of the miracle of Mary’s image appearing on the tilma of Juan Diego, an Aztec Indian, in 1531 in Mexico City. Additionally, several youths performed folkloric dancing, and Father Jesús Flores blessed the many images of Guadalupe and Jesus that the parishioners brought with them.
Cesilia Basilio, 13, portrayed Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Octavio Cortez Garcia played Juan Diego. Sister Luci Romero, the migrant minister for Wayne County, led a committee that coordinated the Mass and prepared the children, teenagers and adults who participated.
"I felt honored that she picked me to be the Virgin of Guadalupe," Cesilia said.
Celebrations also were held at churches in Rochester, Brockport, Leicester, Penfield, Wolcott and Geneva.
At the Marion celebration, De La Cruz explained that the gesture of approaching the altar of Our Lady of Guadalupe on one’s knees is common for Mexicans to do in their native country, noting that it is part of the tradition of showing gratitude for prayers answered.
"I continue the tradition, but we are losing it (outside of Mexico)," she added. "(But) the important thing is that we come to see her."
De La Cruz walks with a limp after having suffered an accident on the job at a farm where she was harvesting potatoes in August. After enduring five operations and a month of bed rest, she said that she felt depressed and prayed to the Virgin Mary to help her recuperate.
"Thanks to her, I am doing much better," she remarked.