Our Lady of Guadalupe hand in hand with the immigrants


 Two different eras helped usher in the Mexican immigrants in the Quad Cities, without the Virgin of Guadalupe, many of thevirgen_de_guadalupem may not have adjusted to life in the United States. The first Mexican immigrants came during the 1920’s and by the 1940’s a large number of them lived in Silvis, Illinois. Those immigrants would help start what eventually became Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Silvis, Ill.



Former mayor of Silvis, Joe Terronez was not even born when mass was being celebrated in a boxcar in 1927. He was born two years later and remembers the second church on 4th Street in Silvis that he assisted after the boxcar era.


“It was a beautiful church, I remember walking down to the church standing down on the kneelers, barely seeing through them hearing mass with my family and all,” he said.



The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe is the apparition of the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary to an indigenous man, Juan Diego. The first appearance happened on December 9, 1531 where she spoke to him in his native language Nahuatl asking for a church to be built on this site. The local bishop, Fray Juan de Zumarraga asked for a miraculous sign.


Our Lady told Juan Diego to gather flowers in the middle of winter and gathered them on his tilma (apron) presenting them to the bishop. When the roses fell, the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared on December 12, 1531. The interesting thing is that the tilma is still in good condition and is presently at the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City. The 12th of December is the traditional day of celebrating this occurrence.


Mexican novelist, Carlos Fuentes said, “One may no longer consider himself a Christian, but you cannot truly be considered a Mexican unless you believe in the Virgin of Guadalupe.”



The second era of Mexican immigrants in the Quad Cities came in the 1980’s and St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Moline, Ill. has been celebrating the day with mañanitas and other celebrations for thirty years. Father Jerry Pilon said that the parish had Jesuit priests from Chicago in the early 1980’s, using his parish for Hispanic ministry. The Jesuits also went to other parishes in the area at that time. Before this time, most of the Latino population attended Our Lady of Guadalupe in Silvis.


Father Pilon likes to see how people from different cultures celebrate the Catholic faith saying, “outside of people from Mexico, you wouldn’t experience that.”
As a priest, Pilon wanted to make note of three important things that result from Our Lady of Guadalupe.



“First, God is active in every generation. Second, the message of the gospel is for all people. Third, the conversion of the America’s was the result of this apparition. It’s the reason why the faith spread so much in the Western Hemisphere,” he said.

A devout Catholic, Terronez said that he would attend Our Lady of Guadalupe’s parish festivities since he’s been going there all his life. Comparing both generation of immigrants, he said that both can agree on one thing, that being Our Lady of Guadalupe.“Most of the people from Mexico and the even the young kids can communicate with Our Lady of Guadalupe,” he said.



Now these celebrations continue to grow with the latest wave of immigrants that have come to the Quad Cities within the last decade or so, many from Mexico.  They might not come with many possessions, but they still bring their faith in her, something that is apparent with the large number of people who gather at the celebrations in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

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