WILDWOOD – It was a fiesta in the streets of Wildwood for Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe Dec. 12.
The holiday, celebrated widely in Mexico and other parts of Latin America, honors the anniversary of one of the six Marian apparitions widely recognized to be endorsed by the Holy See. In Roman Catholicism, a Marian apparition is a supernatural appearance of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Wildwood’s Our Lady of Guadalupe feast day has become well established, with a flamboyant procession through the city streets along a route running from Fox Park and arriving at St. Ann’s Church for a 6 p.m. mass, which was delivered by Bishop Dennis Sullivan.
Costumes, marching bands, color guards, and floats highlight the parade, which this year was attended by about 100 people.
“It’s beautifully done. And they do it with such love, they’re up till three o’clock in the morning doing it. A whole group. Dedicated,” said Sister Anne Lafferty, a bilingual nun from Notre Dame De La Mer Parish. “It’s a work of a community that loves the blessed mother and wants to show that to the world.”
The event has also helped to build a more diverse church community, better reflecting the city’s Latino population.
“Some people who see the procession, they’re not part of it. But they see it and they follow us,” said Gloria Gutierrez, a longtime participant.
Gutierrez said she began celebrating the holiday in Wildwood more than 30 years ago. At the time, she said she was amongonly a small handful of Latinos going to local Catholic churches, but, over the years, with the help of an open-minded pastor from St. Ann’s, she grew the Dec. 12 holiday and the Latino church community with it.
Mass was followed by a feast and dancing at St. Raymond Hall, in Villas.
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