Friday, December 12th is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. She is the patroness of the United States, Mexico and all of the Americas as well as the protector of the unborn. She is a religious as well as a cultural figure to the people of Mexico. In 1531, she appeared in a vision to a humble peasant farmer named Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill near Mexico City. She requested that he ask the local bishop to build a church at that place. The bishop acquiesced and built the Shrine after requesting and receiving a sign. The Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe is the most visited Catholic pilgrimage site in the world. Pope John Paul II visited the Shrine and dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe a chapel within Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. The appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe helped generate the conversion of Mexico and Latin America to Catholicism. From 1531 to 1538, eight million Mexicans were converted to Catholicism. Her feast is celebrated with great joy and enthusiasm throughout the Americas.
As we reflect on the significance of this feast day, we also call to mind another important date during this Advent season. This upcoming Thursday, December 18th we will celebrate a memorial Mass for our beloved former pastor, Monsignor Paul Reynolds. He served as a priest in the Archdiocese of Atlanta for over forty years. Msgr. Reynolds was a man of great insight and wisdom who had a way of putting people at ease. He was pastor of several parishes in the Archdiocese including Saint Brigid, where he served from 2006 until his death.
His obituary stated that “…As pastor he fostered the growth of strong faith communities with many vibrant ministries, especially in spirituality, education, and music. He devoted his attention to parishioners’ spiritual lives, seeking to renew and deepen their faith and his own. Wit and self-deprecating humor were characteristic of him as were compassion and a humble disposition.”
It seems most appropriate that Msgr. Reynolds passed away during the Advent season. In this season, we are invited in a special way to embrace a joyous generosity of spirit as we eagerly anticipate the coming of the Lord. Msgr. Reynolds had this spirit. Deacon Dennis Dorner, who worked closely with him, said he was a “…priest who was filled with joy.” Deacon Dennis stated that he was privileged to be associated with such a humble and compassionate man. Archbishop Wilton Gregory also spoke fondly of him calling him “a healer” with “pervasive Irish charm.”
Please join us on Thursday at 7 p.m. as we remember and honor Msgr. Reynolds.