Our Lady of Guadalupe image on display in Southwick
Story and photos by David Martin
SOUTHWICK- Worshipers at Our Lady of the Lake Parish here were able to offer prayers and sing praise before a missionary image of Our Lady of Guadalupe as it was displayed in the church the morning of May 3.
The image is a replica of the original, which was created following an appearance in Mexico City in 1531 by a “Lady of Heaven” who identified herself to a Native American as the Holy Virgin Mary.
Our Lady requested that a church be built on Tepeyac, the hill where she made her appearance. The local bishop at the time hesitated. He requested a sign so that he could be sure that the apparition was legitimate. The Blessed Mother left an image of herself imprinted on the native’s tilma, a poor-quality cactus cloth, which has miraculously survived after 480 years.
Father Henry L. Dorsch, pastor of Our Lady of the Lake Parish, said the original image is still located in Mexico City at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“There have been special graces, even miracles, that have been associated with her image,” he said, “so, we feel very honored here at Our Lady of the Lake to host her image for veneration for those who want to pray before her,” said Father Dorsch.
He said the image has been a pro-life icon in America because the sash the Blessed Virgin Mary is wearing in the image is a sign of her pregnancy. Thus, the image has been carried in many pro-life processions. Parishioner Mark Laferriere believes it is very important to appreciate life. He said it is such a shame that so many babies are not given the chance to breath, get out of the womb or be baptized. He said some people are not actually able to visualize this, but if they had the chance "to sit back and visualize abortion, they might realize how horrible it is."
“When they say the image of Mary cries sometimes, it is just awesome,” Laferriere said. “And, the real picture, from what I understand, the image is not into the pigment of the material that was made out of a plant, which should have disintegrated almost 500 years ago. It is bright as day; it is totally amazing to me,” said Laferriere.
Laferriere said he attended the Saturday morning event because Mary is drawing him to have a closer relationship with Jesus and God and by viewing the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. “It is a beautiful thing, like Heaven on earth,” he said.
A Mass, with the image present, was celebrated at 8:30 a.m. Father Dorsch said that this was the feast of the Apostles, Philip and James. He said since the Blessed Mother was in the midst of the apostles when the Holy Spirit came down upon them, it seemed very fitting today to have the image of Our lady of Guadalupe be with them during this celebration.
“Mary’s major role is not to call attention to herself, but to lead us to Jesus,” said Father Dorsch. “The last words of Mary in the Scriptures that were recorded are ‘Do whatever he tells you,’ and we pray that while we do pray before the image of the Blessed Mother that we will also take those words to heart,” said Father Dorsch.
After the Mass many offered prayers, sang hymns and touched the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe as it was displayed on the church altar.
For a video version of this story, tune in to an upcoming edition of “Real to Reel,” the Diocese of Springfield’s television newsmagazine that airs Saturday evenings at 7 on WWLP-22NEWS.