Archbishop John Vlazny celebrated the Mariachi Mass during the Cinco de Mayo celebration, an event that marked 27 years this Sunday. Organized for the Portland Guadalajara Sisters Cities Association, the Mass also included Mother’s Day sentiments from the archbishop during a special blessing after his homily.
He celebrated the Mass in Spanish, allowing him to connect with the Hispanic community and deliver a message of faith and spiritual meaning during his homily.
He invited all the mothers to stand up during Mass and said: “I want to give a special blessing today to all of you, mothers and acknowledge your love, care and loving work. I ask that the angels bring the blessing that will take you to glory.”
The crowd that filled the main stage at Tom McCall Waterfront Park responded with loud applause to all the mothers present.
Archbishop Vlazny, reminded Mass-goers to recall the Mother of God, and pointed out that it’s because of her love that we can experience the love of our mothers.
“Every year we gather together here at this feast to celebrate with our fellows and brothers from Mexico: ‘Viva México, Viva América el suelo del bendito Dios,’” he said.
His homily talked about the disciples encountering Jesus on his journey to Emmaus and how they didn’t recognized him until just after he broke bread with them as he did in La última Cena.
“Today we can see him here with us as the body of Christ and we are members of the same body through the Church,” said the archbishop.
Reflecting on how people live today, he reflected on those in Oregon who say they don’t need the Church.
“Without the guidance and protection of the Holy Spirit we cannot get to the summit and we can get lost,” he said. “Being in a foreign land we need the Holy Spirit and the support of the Church that will be our guide and our map. Without that map we are lost. The church is the map”.
“I give thanks for our brothers and sisters from Mexico and the entire Hispanic community that follow the map of Jesus and the path of his Church,” he said. “We all are part of the body of Christ and we are working every day to build the Kingdom of God as our reign.”
The archbishop also called for peace and justice in the community, specifically mentioning immigration, acknowledging the presence and struggle of undocumented persons.
For Alberto Romero, who came from Hillsboro, to be part of this celebration was a unique experience. He had never been part of the Mariachi Mass, because he had to work, but this year he made it.
“For me, to listen to him speaking Spanish gave me more access to his message. His message to all mothers and that he mentioned undocumented immigrants, shows me that he cares and that the Church cares,” said Romero. “The Archbishop showed that he cares about our community that is suffering, and needs justice. He seems to know our problems and showed that he cares.”
Others that come from Guadalajara to be part of the feast, can see that the archbishop and his message gets close to the reality of the Mexican community in Oregon. Antonio Ortiz Venegas, director of the Mariachi Ciudad de Guadalajara, had been for more than 12 years celebrating the Mariachi Mass in Portland, with Archbishop Vlazny as celebrant.
“For me to come here is like being in my town with my family,” said Ortiz Venegas. “The energy that this celebration has is unique and we have visited many places in the world, but here it is different. The Mass with Archbishop Vlazny, is part of our program and to be with him and pray with the community draws us close to the Mexican people in Portland. I have been able to see through all of these years, how he knows his Catholics, his people and how he wants them to be part of this big Mexican family.”
As he said today, we all are Mexican here, and we can sing together: “Viva Mexico, Viva América.”
“I come every year to the Mariachi Mass, to be able to share with my community,” said Victoria Lara. “This Mother’s Day, being here and receiving the archbishop’s special blessing made me realize my role as a mother: to be able to transmit our values and preserve our traditions and faith in my family and generations to come.”