ROCHESTER — The feast day of Our Lady of Providencia, the patroness of Puerto Rico, is a grand celebration throughout the island even to this day.
Part of the reason, explained Deacon Bienvenido DeJesus, is that the feast day coincides with the date of Christopher Columbus’ 1493 discovery of the Caribbean island.
"It’s a national holiday for Puerto Rico," he said following the Nov. 19 Mass at Holy Apostles Church held in honor of Our Lady of Providencia.
In Purto Rico, he said, the virgin’s statue is paraded throughout the streets and all festivities include music and food. Many families also maintain the tradition of saying the rosary outdoors during the time of her feast day as well, the deacon added.
During the Nov. 19 Mass at Holy Apostles, Deacon Nemesio "Vellon" Martínez began his homily by saying several Hail Marys with the more than 70 parishioners who attended the liturgy. He said that the rosary is an example of how Catholics often like to think of Mary as their own, but she really belongs to everyone.
"Mary is our mother," Deacon Martínez noted. "Jesus gave her to the entire world."
That is why such traditions as the annual "Rosarios de Cruz" are so important, he added. Praying the rosary as a faith community this past October with so many of the Latino parishioners was a beautiful example set for the families who took part, he said.
"How beautiful it is to witness a mother sharing her values with her children," Deacon Martínez remarked. "Continue praying the rosary so Mary will intercede on our behalf."
A statue of Mary, which had been carried in during the procession, was crowned during the Mass by Rosalie Vázquez, a 13-year-old Holy Apostles parishioner dressed in a long, folkloric skirt. She led a group of children who placed bouquets of flowers in front of the image.
"It is Mary that brings us the divine providence, which is Christ," remarked Brother Juan Lozada, director of the diocese’s Spanish Apostolate.