Our Lady of Mount Carmel – A Venezuelan Celebration

By Sisters Asdruanny García and Rosa Sofía Toledo, MHSH

Last Saturday, July 16, was the Feast Day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Nowhere is the day celebrated with more fervor than in rural Manzanita in the state of Lara, in Venezuela, where the Mission Helpers have had a mission since 1990.  We have been in Venezuela since 1963.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the patron saint of the village and the name of the church that the Mission Helpers established there.  Her feast day is always an extremely meaningful and joyous occasion for the people in the region.  Last Saturday was no exception.

La Virgen del Carmen en ManzanitaThe day before the celebration, the villagers and the young people preparing for Confirmation thoroughly cleaned the church and filled it with exotic, fragrant flowers.

On the morning of July 16, a priest from Barquisimeto (the large city 50 miles to the north of Manzanita) celebrated Mass and the sacrament of Confirmation for 49 young people.  During the Mass, individuals expressed their deep gratitude to Our Lady of Mount Carmel for her intercessory power in the community.  They showed their appreciation through song, dance, poetry, gifts and applause.

Following the joyful Mass the festivity continued with a shared lunch for 300 people in an atmosphere of brotherhood and sisterhood.

The procession began at 3 p.m. with the recitation of the Rosary; the statue of Our Lady was placed in a niche, which was donated by the local government, and hoisted to the shoulders of the men and women of the village.

From the church, we processed through the three main sectors of Manzanita, making stops at villages along the way.  At one stop, a family gifted Our Lady with a group of Mariachis who sang as we walked.   At each stop we led the people in reflections and prayers for families, businesses, police, health and agricultural institutions and government agencies.  And, all along the way, there was music and song.

At one point we were surprised by a sudden downpour of rain, but the people were so filled with joy that we continued, disregarding the rain.

When we returned to the church, the Mariachis joined us with their songs and stayed with the people of God for a long time.  The celebration ended at 6:30 p.m.

Reflection:  This feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a particularly Latin American celebration.  What are your religious and cultural roots? Do your celebrations reflect your culture?

Have you felt the presence of Mary through the human and spiritual warmth of other people?

Have you ever experienced the intercessory power of Mary in your life?

Note:   All of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel events are coordinated by Mission Helper Sisters Rosa Sofía Toledo, Marita Rodríguez Segarra and Asdruanny García.

                                                                                                                                                                     

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6 Responses to Our Lady of Mount Carmel – A Venezuelan Celebration

  1. Mary Ita Hayes, MHSH says:

    Sisters, many thanks for sharing the feast day and giving us an opportunity to return to Manzanita by your pictures and faith sharing. I loved the picture of the procession in the rain! Mil gracia! Mary Ita

  2. Dolores SSJ says:

    Rosa and Asdruanny, thank you so much for sharing the public witness of the people in Venezuela. Beautiful! Dolores SSJ

  3. Sr. Donna says:

    What a great celebration. It’s wonderful to see all the photos; kind of makes me feel I’m almost there! Also, I notice people of all different ages. Keep up the good work. Donna

  4. sister barbara baker, mhsh says:

    Thank you Rosa and Asdruanny. The joy in the people’s faces speaks to their love for Our Lady as well as the community of faith in Manzanita. The pictures are great and I know how much work goes on behind the scenes to make it all look so natural and easy. Barbara Baker

  5. joanne says:

    Sisters, Oh, I thank God for each of you and this wonderful compuer that enables me to enter so wonderfully into your celebration of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. May she shower her blessings on each one who participated in honoring her on her feast. In union of heart and prayer, with love, Sister Joanne

  6. Caritas says:

    Dear Sisters, What a beautiful celebration of Faith and Culture! Your ministry has truly enriched the lives of the people of Manzanita, and their joyful, loving celebration on the Feast of Our Lady of Mt Carmel has enriched enriched ours. THANK YOU! Sr. Caritas Kennedy, RSM

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