Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It commemorates when Mary, the Mother of Jesus apparently appeared to Juan Diego, an Indigenous man from Tepeyac, Mexico, in 1531. Mary appeared to him as an indigenous woman from his nation, suggesting that Jesus, her son, is inclusive of everybody.
This year, the feast coincides with Hanukkah, the Jewish celebration of freedom to express ones own nation and culture. The Hanukkah story tells how, despite several attempts from King Antiochus to obliterate the entire Jewish way of life, the Jewish people overcame the attempted cultural genocide against them, and their nation prevailed.
There are many parallels between the Hanukkah story and the terrible history of Canada’s residential schools, which too attempted to destroy several rich cultures and nations. The Canadian Catholic Church deeply regrets their historical role in the cultural genocide against Canada’s indigenous nations.
The National Day of Prayer in Solidarity with indigenous Peoples in Canada marks a shift in the Church’s attitude toward indigenous peoples. The day is marked by prayer, remembering, and apologizing for the residential schools that destroyed so many families. The day also commemorates and prays for the safe return of the thousands of missing indigenous women in Canada.
To learn more about the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, click here.
To read the statement and prayer from the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council, click here.