TRENTON, NJ - Catholics representing parish communities from across the Diocese of Trenton take to the streets of the city of Trenton to show their devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe Dec. 3 in advance of her Dec. 12 feast day. Hundreds of pilgrims from Burlington, Monmouth and Ocean Counties gathered in Immaculate Conception Church, part of Our Lady of the Angels Parish, to begin their walk of faith.

The pilgrims first stopped at St. Joseph Church, Trenton, where they met up with the faithful from other Mercer County parishes before making their way to their final destination, St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, where they would unite in a culturally rich, bilingual celebration of the Mass in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whom the Catholic Church recognizes as the Patroness of the Americas.

The pilgrimage and Mass were the culmination of a month of preparation and celebration as lit torches were carried from parish to parish by men and women in honor of Our Lady. While people of Mexican heritage certainly feel a special connection to “Guadalupe,” the name Mary gave to St. Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac in 1531, the diocesan pilgrimage offered a visible testimony of the relationship she shares with people from all countries in the Americas. The celebration was the first of its kind for the Diocese of Trenton and participants already began to think about next year’s event.

Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., welcomes pilgrims as they arrive at St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral after making their way through the streets of Trenton. Reflecting on the day, Bishop O’Connell said, "It was deeply moving for me as Bishop to see the tremendous love for and devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe as members of our ever-growing Catholic Hispanic communities carried torches from each of the four counties of the Diocese of Trenton to the doors of the Cathedral where I welcomed them.  You could sense their faith and joy as pilgrims carrying roses, banners and statues filled the Mother Church of the Diocese."

A truly “moving” event, the diocesan pilgrimage in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe brought together people of diverse nationalities, cultures and backgrounds, uniting them in faith. The witness of all those who participated in the pilgrimage was a visible sign of people’s hope to bring love and peace into the world.

Jairo Torres photos/courtesy of the Diocese of Trenton