You’re Invited
35th Annual Festival
of Lessons and Carols
Sunday, December 21 • 7:30pm at the Cathedral of St. Patrick, Norwich
The traditional festival originated in England at the end of the 19th century and consists of music and readings that trace the mystery of salvation from the creation of the world through the birth of Jesus Christ. Over the past thirty years the event has grown to include six choirs, brass and handbells. It has become a popular Christmas holiday event for the Cathedral parish as well as the Norwich community. Participating in the festival along with the Norwich Diocesan Choir will be the Cathedral Children’s Choir, the three Cathedral handbell choirs, the Cathedral Youth Singers and readers from the Cathedral parish. The choirs, totaling more than one hundred voices and ringers are all under the direction of Douglas Green, Cathedral Music Director. Accompanying the choirs on the Cathedral organ will be Michael McCarthy along with the Sterling Brass Quartet. Persons attending the festival will have the opportunity to sing many traditional Christmas Carols. The public is invited and admission is free.

We Continue to Be Her Messenger
The Feast of
Our Lady of Guadalupe
By Angela Angulo, FCC Contributor 
In 1521, the Europeans conquered the Aztec Empire and just 10 years later Our Blessed Mother appeared to Juan Diego in Guadalupe, what is now Mexico City. Now, every December, millions celebrate the miracles preformed several hundred years ago. These celebrations begin the night before the feast date with a procession held in Willimantic with prayers and songs called ‘Las Mananitas’. The evening of December 12th, the Cathedral of Saint Patrick transports us all to Mexico. The celebration begins with a rosary offered up to Our Lady and continues on with a bilingual Mass celebrated by the Most Reverend Michael R. Cote D.D., Bishop of Norwich. Our Blessed Mother made it clear that we are all united, and in that spirit, the Mass brought together Spanish speakers and others alike. The cathedral was fully decorated with red and white roses, streamers representing the Mexican flag and a large image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, while several of our youth present wore custom Mexican attire. Also, this year marked the 10th year of enjoying the ministry work of the band Mariachi International.

“Que viva la Virgin de Guadalupe!” Father Robert Washabaugh, Pastor of Saint Mary’s Star of the Sea Church in New London, fired up the parishioners with shouts of praise to Our Lady in the beginning of his homily. He explained that the Virgin Mary did, in fact, appear to Juan Diego 10 years after the conquest of the Aztec Empire. Father Washabaugh brought to our attention how tired and distraught the native people must have been as he recalled, “She came to the Americas to raise up a new world from the ashes of an old world violently torn down.” Our Lady decided to show Herself as a beautiful Mexican expectant Mother and asked Juan to carry Her message of building a church for Her and Her unborn child. The people needed something uplifting, and Mary was able to provide the guidance and hope for a new beginning as Christian converts.

At first, the Spanish Bishop of that time ignored Juan Diego’s story of his personal encounter with Mary and he asked that Mary send a sign down to him. The Lady responded by uniting both Europeans and natives as one. Father Washabaugh said that it was the start of a new society. “How do you explain the conversion, willing and even joyful conversion of millions of Mexicans and a remarkable change of heart of those who conquered them?” The Bishop understood that it was God’s will. 

Following the Holy Mass, all of the parishioners were invited downstairs for a ‘Fiesta’ to indulge in authentic Mexican food accompanied by the festive sound of the Mariachi International Band. As the fellowship continued, the youth, dressed in their traditional attire, performed some beautiful Mexican dances.

Our Blessed Mother reminds us that we are to honor life, as She is also the patroness of unborn children. She has shown us that She truly is Our Mother by coming to our aid when we need it most. She valued Juan Diego as a person though he was just a peasant, and she trusted him to carry on her message. We have built a church in her name and we continue to be Her messengers.