Rocio Ríos/Catholic Sentinel
The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe rises in front of the congregation Dec. 10 during Mass for her feast. During the Mass, held at St. Mary Cathedral, Archbishop Alexander Sample voiced his support for immigrants and called for opposition to bigotry.
Rocio Ríos/Catholic Sentinel
The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe rises in front of the congregation Dec. 10 during Mass for her feast. During the Mass, held at St. Mary Cathedral, Archbishop Alexander Sample voiced his support for immigrants and called for opposition to bigotry.

Responding to rhetoric from the recent presidential election, Archbishop Alexander Sample told a crowd of Hispanic Catholics Dec. 10 that he loves them and God loves them. During the Mass celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the archbishop then called on all Catholics in western Oregon to condemn racial bigotry and hatred.

“It does not matter to me from where you have come, when you came, or whether you have the proper documents or not. You are loved!” Archbishop Sample said in a bilingual homily at St. Mary Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. “You are loved by God and precious in his eyes. You are loved by Our Lady of Guadalupe. You are her special children, her little ones, and she will not abandon you.”

The archbishop told the crowd that other western Oregon Catholics also love the Hispanic community, which has felt anxious over anti-immigrant sentiment that became explicit during the campaign.  

“We stand with you and we love you,” the archbishop said. “You are one with us.  You are a part of us.  We are a family.  We all enjoy equal dignity and worth before our heavenly Father. We are brothers and sisters in his Son, Jesus.”

The archbishop told worshipers that Catholic Charities of Oregon is advocating for humane and just treatment of immigrants and said the nation’s Catholic bishops are committed to being a voice for immigrants in discussions with the Trump administration.

 

“It does not matter to me from where you have come, when you came, or whether you have the proper documents or not.”

—   Archbishop Alexander Sample to Hispanic Catholics at Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration


“We will make your voice heard and work hard to see that a just and merciful solution for our broken immigration system is found that honors the dignity of the human person and keeps families together,” the archbishop told an appreciative congregation.

“His words of support to our community at this time made me feel full of grace,” said Cleotilde Batista of Ascension Parish. “This gives us hope.”

Brenda Boyzo Vera, a member of St Luke Parish in Woodburn, said the archbishop’s message was powerful at this moment. “I feel a sense of hope after what he said to us today,” Boyzo Vera said. 

“After the recent presidential election where our community felt the racism, we come together today and the cathedral opened the doors to us and gave us a sense that we belong there, too,” said Deacon José Gonzalez of St. Anne Parish in Gresham.

This was the first time the cathedral was home to the Archdiocese of Portland’s central celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The venue is a sign that the feast is becoming important to the faith life of all western Oregon Catholics and also that Hispanics have become an essential part of the local church. 

 “Our Lady of Guadalupe is not just for the Latino community in the Archdiocese of Portland,” Archbishop Sample said. “She is a mother for all of us, and I know many, many others who love her and seek her motherly protection and intercession. I am one of those. Soy un guadalupano!”

In 1999, St. John Paul II designated Our Lady of Guadalupe patroness all of the Americas and named her “Star of the New Evangelization.” 

A reception in the Cathedral School gym followed Mass and included Aztec dancers. Archbishop Sample chatted with the faithful and seemed to enjoy the event, even taking photos with his phone. Auxiliary Bishop Peter Smith also attended the celebration.