St. Mary Academy students celebrate Guadalupe Feast with procession, Rosary prayers

Youngsters place roses in a basket at the foot of an Our Lady of Guadalupe image handmade by Claire Salisbury, whose father teaches at the school. The children are wearing tilmas that they made in class. Jennifer Mauro photo


By Jennifer Mauro | Managing Editor

When I’m older, I want to have children, and Mary helps me find out what kind of mother I want to be,” seventh-grader Eloise Geiger said, explaining why she wanted to participate in activities honoring the Blessed Mother on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Geiger was among the St. Mary Academy students who took part in a procession and prayer service Dec. 12 in honor of Our Lady. The afternoon began with students walking from the Manahawkin school across the street to St. Mary of the Pines Church, a worship site of Barnegat’s St. Mary Parish. As they processed inside and up to the front of the church, the students placed roses in a basket at the foot of an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which was handmade in beads by Claire Salisbury, whose father teaches at the school.

“Today we are going to think about the people who need prayers, even ourselves,” Father Walter Quiceno said at the beginning of the prayer service. The students then prayed five decades of the Rosary, two of which were in Spanish.

Geiger, who helped led the Rosary prayers and read the contemplations for each, said the students had been learning for weeks how to pray the Rosary in Spanish.

“The more languages you can speak, the more friends you can make,” Father Quiceno noted, encouraging the children to keep learning Spanish.

The handmade image of Our Lady of Guadalupe stood proud at the front of the church, with a larger display of images and baskets of flowers honoring the Blessed Mother nearby. Salisbury, 23, a parishioner of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, said she created the artwork because she wanted to honor Mary, whom she has had a devotion to since a child.

Salisbury explained that she worked 10-12 hours a day for 10 weeks to complete the image, which is made of more than 77,000 tiny beads.

Later that evening, a bilingual Mass was celebrated in the church, which was followed by a Mexican food dinner and a cultural performance by faithful from St. Mark Parish, Sea Girt.

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