ROCHESTER — One-month-old Jomairies Agosto played an important role in the liturgical dance performed by "Angeles de Dios" (Angels of God) during the annual Mass in honor of Our Lady of Providencia.
Dressed in a white robe and powder blue veil, Joselyann Vázquez, 13, held Jomairies as the two acted as Mary and the baby Jesus during the dance at the end of the Mass. The baby’s mother stood watch over the pair in a nearby pew.
Deemairi Agosto, a St. Frances Xavier Cabrini parishioner, said that she was happy to have her baby be part of the celebration in honor of the patroness of Puerto Rico and start her on the journey to faithful participation in her parish.
"As she gets older, she will know her culture and where she came from," said Agosto, who moved to Rochester from Puerto Rico at the age of 7.
Ada Santiago, who leads the liturgical dance group, said that the youths who are members also learn important lessons about prayer through their participation in the group.
"They learn to praise and adore the Lord … in different ways," she said. "You can also pray to the Lord with body movements … especially with the hands."
More than 100 people came out for the Nov. 19 Providencia Mass, which included a procession with an image of Mary placed at the altar at Our Lady of the Americas Church. Following Communion, all the children in attendance placed single-stem roses in front of the image as she was crowned.
That specific statue has a special history, since it was a local priest who found it on the island decades ago and requested that it be brought to Rochester for the Latino community, explained Deacon Carlos Vargas.
During his homily, Deacon Vargas also said that another important aspect of the celebration was the central message of the encounter between Mary and Elizabeth recounted in the feast day’s Gospel: "And the word became flesh."
That phrase reminds us of our own baptismal promises, he explained.
"We have a commitment, a call, an obligation" to fulfill those promises as Mary did, Deacon Vargas said.
The reaction of Elizabeth’s baby in her womb in the Gospel story also provides the first encounter between St. John the Baptist and Jesus, he added, and reminds us of the gratitude that all Catholics should feel that Mary chose to accept God’s call to bear the savior of the world.
"Mary trusted in the Lord," said Deacon Vargas. "Mary is the connection between us and our Lord Jesus, and that is why we trust in her."