Seattle Archdiocese’s Madre de las Americas celebration turns 20

  • Written by Louis McGill
  • Published in Local
The Archdiocese of Seattle’s 20th anniversary celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, took place Dec. 6. It started with a rosary said at St. Mary Church in Seattle followed by a procession to nearby St. James Cathedral for Mass. View more photos at bottom. Photo: Stephen Brashear The Archdiocese of Seattle’s 20th anniversary celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, took place Dec. 6. It started with a rosary said at St. Mary Church in Seattle followed by a procession to nearby St. James Cathedral for Mass. View more photos at bottom. Photo: Stephen Brashear

SEATTLE – “Que viva Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe!” a man shouted while walking in a procession toward St. James Cathedral Dec. 6. “Que viva!” the crowd responded.

The procession had just arrived from nearby St. Mary Church for the archdiocese’s 20th anniversary celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas.

A truck carrying actors portraying the Virgin Mary appearing to St. Juan Diego led the crowd of people carrying signs and banners, with groups of folk dancers in traditional dress trailing behind. Once at the cathedral, the dancers processed up the center aisle, past a standing-room-only crowd.

The popular celebration, which brings together Hispanic ministries and people from throughout the archdiocese, has come a long way since it began in 1994.

That first year, the event was held at St. Edward Church in south Seattle, led by Esther Bazán, former director of the archdiocese’s Hispanic affairs office, said Gudelia Alejo, a member of the planning committee who now is a pastoral associate at St. Mary Parish in Seattle.

“It was a lovely start,” said Aurora Antipolo, who also served on the first planning committee.

By the second year, participation had grown enough to move the celebration to the cathedral.

While the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is especially important in the Mexican community, Antipolo said planners wanted to celebrate the diversity of the Hispanic community in the archdiocese. 

So the second year, the “Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, Madre de las Americas” celebration included people representing 43 different countries of origin, Alejo said. That year, some 300 people came to the rehearsal alone. Each one carried up a flower, candle and flag to place around a painting of the Virgin Mary.

“It was so beautiful,” Alejo said of the 1995 event. “That cathedral was really packed.”

The painting, by local artist Rogelio Andrade, depicts the Virgin Mary over the North and South American continents, representing her role as Mother of the Americas. The painting has been used in the celebration for many years, and Andrade said he was happy to paint something that people remember.

Alicia González-Capestany, secretary at St. Mary Parish, helped organize the original event and has seen it change in small ways. But one thing has not changed: It continues to bring people from all over the archdiocese, eager to be part of the celebration.

That allows people from various parish communities to connect in a way they might not otherwise. The Madre de las Americas celebration is the only time many of them see each other during the year, Alejo noted.

“Our Lady of Guadalupe brings unity,” she said.

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Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas 20th anniversary celebration