NEW GARDEN - For the majority of Americans, the heavy Christmas celebrating is a week away.
But for those in the Mexican community, the Our Lady of Guadalupe ceremonies usher in the holiday season during the second week of December.
At the largely Latino St. Rocco Catholic Church in New Garden, the remembrance events are so popular that they have to hold four or five services just to accommodate the thousands of members. This year there was a vigil on Wednesday on Dec. 11 that was followed by a procession into the church of a lighted statue of the Virgin surrounded by flowers. Then on Thursday, there were services at 4, 6 and 8 p.m.
The services are colorful and joyous.
Many of the children arrive in native Mexican garb, and, occasionally, that custom is observed by the parents as well. Among the attendees are members who bring flowers and statues to present at the offertory.
The music is rousing and joyous as well. A band called the Mariachi Angels of Mexico present upbeat tunes via guitars and trumpets.
The Guadalupe service celebrates the religious legend that reads and is told almost like a folk tale.
It is said that a young boy named Juan Diego saw what an image of the Virgin Mary on a hill just outside of Mexico City on Dec. 9 in 1531.
It is said that he asked her to prove who she was, and she at first cured his seriously ill uncle and then told him to go and pick flowers at a nearby mostly barren hill.
When Diego arrived at the hill he found roses growing out of season. He picked them and placed them under his cloak to go and show a bishop.
When he arrived at the dwelling of the holy man and opened his cloak on Dec. 12, the roses fell to the floor. But that was not all. There was an image of the Virgin in the fabric of the cloak.
To this day, that date remains special and celebrated among Mexican Catholics.
St. Rocco is new and is the home parish to thousands of Mexican Catholics in southern Chester County. It was built in the style of a Mexican adobe along Route 41 on Sunny Dell Road. It was opened in 2011 and became the religious destination for many who had previously had to attend services in the English speaking churches scattered throughout the area. Monsignor Frank Depman presides over the parish and leads services of worship, baptism, weddings, funerals and Quinceanera, as well as ministering to their secular needs.