Pilgrims to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe encounter there not only their Mother, but their brothers and sisters, the saints. “In the communion of saints she is number one, but she is constantly wanting us to get to know the other saints,” notes Cardinal Burke. The Shrine Church includes six side altars dedicated to various saints, each one featuring not only original artwork but a first-class relic.
Furthermore, each of these saints is also honored at the Shrine with a Mass Guild. Those whose names are enrolled in one of the guilds are remembered in a monthly Mass offered for the intentions of all Guild members. Each guild has a particular patronage; for instance, the St. Gianna Guild is especially for expectant mothers, those who wish to be mothers, and physicians.
“A guild is a collection of people united in prayer to a common cause or saint or patronage,” explains Development Director Ed Zwibel. “The guild is a collection of people uniting in prayer, to an intercessor in this case.” The saints for the guilds, Zwibel goes on to explain, were especially chosen for the needs of the modern world. Five are contemporary saints, with special connections to the challenges facing our age, while the sixth, St. Peregrine, is a fitting patron for the many who seek his intercession for cancer.
Recently, two new guilds have been inaugurated: the Bl. Miguel Pro Guild for priests and the St. Thérèse of Lisieux Guild for missionaries. Bl. Miguel Pro, while not yet a canonized saint, is an eminently fitting patron for the Shrine. A priest of Mexico, where Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared, he gave his life as a missionary and martyr for the persecuted Church of his native land. “He was joyful unto death,” Zwibel says. “In a time when our world is increasingly secular … his witness to the faith and joyful courage is really powerful.”
St. Thérèse, on the other hand, lived a quiet, hidden life; yet she is “champion of missionaries” due to the prayers and sacrifices she continually offered with burning missionary zeal. In her side altar, she is depicted in Vietnam, where she longed to join a Carmelite mission, along with St. Theophane Venard, a missionary priest to whom she had a great devotion. Thérèse is also a patron of florists and of all who live her “Little Way” of small acts with great love.
“She’s also a very good contemporary model of living well with others,” Zwibel comments. “Find the person you least care for, and in a divisive, polarized world, she instead becomes their servant, their joy.”
Each Guild is a means not only to receive grace but to draw closer to a heavenly intercessor and friend, in Zwibel’s words, “an opportunity to unite the message of the saints … to the daily spiritual life of our pilgrims.” The Mass Guilds are thus one more way in which pilgrims may experience the heavenly realities that are always present.
To learn more about the Mass Guilds at the Shrine, or to enroll a loved one, visit GuadalupeShrine.org/mass-guilds.