HARTFORD – The mariachi music was spirited but the procession was solemn as six men reverently elevated and carried the familiar statue of Our Lady of Divine Providence to its place of honor in the sanctuary at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford Nov. 19.
Singers and musicians from several parishes in the Archdiocese joined the Chorus of the Assumption from St. Mary Parish in New Britain to celebrate the feast of Our Lady, Mother of Divine Providence, patroness of Puerto Rico/Nuestra Senora, Madre de la Divina Providencia, Patrona de Puerto Rico.
Archbishop Leonard P. Blair spoke in Spanish as the principal celebrant of the annual Mass.
The concelebrants were Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Peter A. Rosazza and Father José A. Mercado, who also gave the homily. Father Ryan Lerner was master of ceremonies.
Even before the Mass, people displayed their devotion in the narthex as groups and individuals posed for photos with the statue or caressed its infant Jesus in passing. After Mass, too, many families accepted the invitation to approach the statue in the sanctuary for photos and prayer.
Richard Rivera and his wife and children were among the more than 500 people, including many small children, at the Mass. Mr. Rivera is a member of the Chorus of the Assumption. He said all churches are invited to join the choir each year.
This year, among others, was a group of musicians and singers from the Church of St. Peter in Hartford. Those performing on guitars, drums and other mariachi instruments were grouped near the altar, close to where the statue of Our Lady was placed during the Mass.
The Mass program booklet, all in Spanish, contained the history of the devotion and photographs of the image as depicted through the centuries.
The booklet was welcomed by Myrtha and Francisco Acevedo, of the merged Sacred Heart/St. Peter parishes. They are members of the Servants of Mary, a prayer group at Sacred Heart. They said they planned to take the booklet home to read to their children.
Also there was Chandranni Quinones, who attended with her husband and her brother and children Casandra Ruiz, age 6; Caesar Ruiz, 10; and Christian Quinoness 10. Also parishioners of Sacred Heart, they said the Mass is an annual tradition for the family.
“We’re here to celebrate her Mass,” said Caesar of Our Lady. Christian added that the family would be talking about her, and Casandra said she would be thinking about miracles attributed to her.
Mom Chandranni said, “We try to make it a family tradition to come and remember the mother of Jesus and how special she is to us and how we should strive to be more like her every day and in our families. We cele-brate in different cultures, but she’s mother to all of us and special to all of us.”
Valentin Rosario, a member of the Servants of Mary at St. Augustine Church, said the feast of Our Lady, Mother of Divine Providence, draws the Hispanic community together. He called the feast “an important day for all of us.”
Speaking in English just before the final blessing, Archbishop Blair thanked all who participated in the liturgy. He acknowledged that Puerto Rico continues to face many challenges, and described the celebration of Our Lady, Mother of Divine Providence, as a very special day for Hispanics everywhere.
A decree signed by Pope Paul VI on Nov. 19, 1969, made Our Lady, Mother of Divine Providence, the principal patroness of the island of Puerto Rico.