Faithful flock to stadium for Knights of Columbus-backed event
For the most significant religious event at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum since Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass there in 1987, the Knights of Columbus is partnering with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to stage the Guadalupe Celebration on Sunday, August 5th.
The event is expected to fill the open-air stadium, which has seen an impressive variety of sports events in its long history – including USC and Rams football, Dodgers and World Series baseball, the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics Games – as well as rock stars Bruce Springsteen and Van Halen.
Built in 1923 to resound the roar of fans, the Coliseum will be filled on Sunday with the more celestial sounds of prayer, sacred song, contemporary Christian music, traditional Mexican performances, faith talks, inspirational witnesses and the hushed reverence that will accompany the veneration of the tilma relic of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The events will take place from 3-6 p.m., on a stage beautifully constructed on the classic peristyle end of the grass field. Attending the free event will be a congregation of the faithful from parishes, Catholic groups and communities in the Los Angeles area and beyond.
A universal gathering of peoples and cultures, the Guadalupe Celebration will feature an uplifting message of faith, charity and unity in the mother of Jesus who appeared nearly 500 years ago to a simple Mexican peasant, Juan Diego, who is now a saint. As with any major stage event, on the day before at the Coliseum there were sound checks, rehearsals, dry runs and hours of planning and preparations by Knights of Columbus staff members. Yet the atmosphere was far from that of a game or concert. All those involved were aware that they were working on something special that would have far-reaching effects for the Church in Los Angeles and the lives of all who attend or view it on television.
The performers are skilled professionals who devote their talents to showing forth the beauty, dynamism and relevance of the Catholic faith.
“It is so emotional for me to be here at an event here in the Coliseum, which will be filled with believers and Catholic performers,” said Irish singer Dana Scallon, who arrived Saturday afternoon for a sound check on stage. She will sing “We Are One Body,” which she wrote for World Youth Day in Denver in 1993, and other popular Catholic songs. “We are here to spread the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who calls us to say ‘yes’ as she did to God.”
Also at the Coliseum for rehearsal was Msgr. Eduardo Chavez, the rector of the Institute for Guadalupan Studies, one of the event’s sponsors. He served as postulator for the Cause for Canonization of St. Juan Diego.
“This is a dream come true,” Msgr. Chavez said. “We are gathering people here to hear the most beautiful message of Our Lady of Guadalupe about her Son. This is a message for all time, and for all people. The word of Our Lady needs to go out to the whole world, and this is a wonderful step toward achieving that goal.”
Also performing on Sunday will be Pedro Fernandez, a Mexican star of TV and films, who performs traditional ballads and contemporary Latino music; Filippa Giordano, an Italian international musical performer, and American singer Danielle Rose, whose latest album is called “Culture of Life.”
Matachines and Azetcas dancers will lead the opening procession of the tilma relic, followed by a bilingual rosary with prayers recited in Spanish and English.
The featured speakers will be Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, the leader of the largest U.S. archdiocese, with some 4 million faithful, and Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson, CEO of the world’s largest Catholic fraternal family organization. Both Anderson and Archbishop Gomez have dedicated their leadership to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Archbishop William E. Lori, Supreme Chaplain, will lead the opening procession with the tilma relic.
The relic is a 1-inch-square piece of the tilma on which a miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was imprinted when she appeared to Juan Diego at Tepeyac in 1531. The relic was a gift from the Archdiocese of Mexico City to Archbishop John Cantwell in gratitude for the 1941 pilgrimage by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in support of the Church in Mexico. The relic is enshrined in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and will be presented at the Guadalupe Celebration as a special loan from Archbishop Gomez.