The month of September is always a special time for the Congregation of Holy Cross because it means the celebration of Our Lady of Sorrows, the patroness of the Congregation. With the special devotion to Mary in Mexico, this celebration was extra special here in Monterrey. The Holy Cross Community gathered for a special Mass at our parish, Our Most Holy Lady of the Light, (Nuestra Senora Santisima de La Luz, or "La Luz" for short) with one of the auxiliary bishops of Monterrey presiding, the Most Reverend Jorge Cavazos. It was a lively Mass with all the Holy Cross priests concelebrating and seminarians serving. The bishop shared his thoughts on the importance of Mary in our lives and how her sorrows and example help lead us to Christ. After the Mass, the community had a festive dinner at the House of Formation to continue the celebration. It is an important day for the Holy Cross Community and the Church at large to remember that like Mary, we all have crosses in our lives that can weigh us down. But the spirituality of Holy Cross emphasizes that the "Cross is our Only Hope," and that the Cross always leads to the Resurrection and new life. Like Mary, who had much hope in the midst of her sorrows, we as Holy Cross Religious are to be "Men with Hope to Bring" so that we can help others find the hope of the Resurrection in their sorrows.
Shortly after the celebration of Our Lady of Sorrows, the parish of La Luz had another celebration in one of its chapels. The parishes here in Monterrey have a number of chapels associated with them. The geographic area of a parish is very large and it would be difficult for all the people to go to the main parish church for Mass. There are smaller chapels spread out throughout the geographic area of the parish so that people have a place of worship closer to their homes. The parish of La Luz has four chapels: Saint Matthias, Saint Rose of Lima, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and Holy Cross. Each chapel on its patronal feast day has a festival to celebrate the patron saint and the community in the chapel. October 1 was the feast of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and so the chapel of Saint Therese held a festival to celebrate the feast.
It was an interesting exposition of the culture of Mexico for me. The celebration began with a procession through the neighborhood where the chapel is located. Leading the procession were a group of "danzas," people who are in traditional Mexican dress and dance to the rhythm of the drum with traditional dance. Behind them were two children dressed as Saint Therese (a custom for the patronal feast). The procession made its way through the streets with many onlookers along the way. It ended at the chapel where a Mass was celebrated outdoors to celebrate Saint Therese and the faith community of the chapel. Afterwards, there was a lot of festivity: carnival rides for the kids, lots of typical Mexican food and entertainment. What I found very interesting about the entertainment was the clown who came. Clowns here in Mexico are more like comedians; they are on a stage and give a routine of jokes and funny stories. The clown at this festival was very dynamic with the children that were there and gave a very funny routine. It was an experience very different for me, but one I enjoyed a lot. The entertainment also included a play by a professional group in town and a competition of "The Voice" among the youth of the chapel. Everyone who attended had a wonderful time and it was a great celebration of Saint Therese and the faithful community of the chapel bearing her name.
Mr. Ryan Pietrocarlo, C.S.C. is completing a pastoral year as a seminarian in the Congregation of Holy Cross. He and other seminarians post twice each month for the Spes Unica Blog. Ryan graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in biochemistry prior to joining the Holy Cross formation program. He is from East Rochester, New York.