Thursday's Mass in Chihuahua was probably one of the most emotional for some of the Guadalupe pilgrims. Initially the Mass was supposed to be celebrated at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Chihuahua by the Bishop. But at the last minute things changed. He could not celebrate the Mass. Then the Mass was moved to Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, a Parish in a poor Barrio in one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico. Some of the Santa Fe pilgrims were a bit disappointed that the statue would not be on display in the main plaza of the city. But just as the Santa Fe pilgrims kept reminding themselves during the journey, Nuestra Señora helps things to be like they are for a reason.
When the bus loaded with pilgrims from Santa Fe and their luggage pulled up to the church one of the pilgrims turned white. Veronica Nava of Santa Fe looked like she saw a ghost. What she saw, however, was someone from her past. Someone she was close to. She ran out of the bus and gave a hug to the priest that was welcoming the group to his neighborhood parish. He immediately recognized her and called her by the childhood name he had given her many years ago: "Ojitos de uva."
Father Rosalio Acosta, the priest at the parish the statue and pilgrims were visiting, baptized Veronica. He knew her as a child. He used to come visit her father Manuel Nava and her mother Maria de la Paz Avila in the small village where she grew up about 4 hours away from Chihuahua in Mexico. She had only seen Father Acosta once since he was moved from her childhood parish many years ago. Even though the grand Mass at the Cathedral did not happen there was a reason the Guadalupe Pilgrims were diverted to the small Barrio parish.
Veronica Nava, top left, a native of Mexico, stands atop the trailer with her childhood pastor and family friend Father Rosalio Acosta as others view the statue. (Photo by Deacon Anthony Trujillo)