Sacred Heart of Jesus Church
Approximately 700 parishioners took part in the recent Hispanic celebration honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of Mexico, North and South America, Latin America and the Philippines. This annual feast day at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church began with a blessing of cars and trucks, as well as the “travelling” statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which was escorted from St. Bernard school grounds through Cullman until reaching the church in downtown.
The regular Saturday masses, one in English at 5:30 p.m. and the Hispanic service held at 7 p.m., were combined for this special centennial celebration of the Cullman church. Hispanic parishioners, under the direction of Padre Jose Guillermo Aristizabal who serves as parish vicar for Hispanic Ministries, shared their religious themed dances complete with authentic costumes, music and prayers of praise for their special Patron Mother. Mass began with the symbolic dance into the church, following the colorful mosaic images of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which were placed on the altar. Dancing to the native drumbeat, dancers of all ages paraded down the aisle in homage to their Hispanic patroness.
During the Mass service, which was conducted in both English and Spanish, Padre Guillermo was surprised with a new vestment bearing the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the front with the beautiful rose flower she is associated with on the back. The vestment, a gift from Sacred Heart of Jesus Church and the Altar Society, was a surprise for Padre Guillermo, while he in turn presented a framed mural of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the Cullman church. The mural came from Mexico and now is hanging proudly in the Family Life Center.
Festivities continued on into the night, as everyone went to the Family Life Center for food, fellowship and entertainment. The gymnasium was decorated in the colors of Mexico, with a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe on stage, overlooking the festivities.
Once again, the dancers took to the floor, following the drummer's haunting melody, as they told the story of the conflict between good and evil, with their dance movements straining to wear out the evil spirits so they would leave the community alone. In the end, good did win out, and those filling the seats and stands in the gymnasium were treated to some wonderful, awe-inspiring native dances.
Padre Guillermo, in his speech during the mass, said it had been a dream of his for both the Hispanics and the Anglos of the parish to join together for such a special event. Seeing all members of the church community joined together sharing heritage and fellowship was a true gift to him. As he moved throughout the gathering, visiting with all those present, the love and respect he has garnered while serving Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, could be seen all around him. It was, indeed, an exceedingly moving and historic night!