DEL CITY — A local priest recently blessed a cemetery garden that pays homage to a Roman Catholic icon.
The Rev. Raul Reyes, pastor of Little Flower Catholic Church, blessed the Our Lady of Guadalupe resting garden Monday at Sunny Lane Cemetery, 3900 SE 29.
“We bless this resting garden in which the bodies of our loved ones will rest until that day in which the Lord returns,” Reyes said in English.
Conducted mainly in Spanish, the dedication ceremony also included Reyes sprinkling holy water on the garden grass and on the new Our Lady of Guadalupe statue erected there.
Jeremy Sparks, the cemetery's general manager, said the Our Lady of Guadalupe garden area in which the new statue is located is Phase 1 of the garden plan. He said 400 burial spaces are included in Phase 1 and Phase 2 will include an additional 400 spaces.
He said cemetery leaders wanted to provide a burial place with an icon that Hispanics relate to because of the growing Hispanic population.
“We have Hispanics buried in other parts of the cemetery, but this is just a way for them to feel inclusive and yet exclusive at the same time. It's an area that they have and relate to.”
Reyes said the garden's namesake is revered in the Hispanic community.
According to tradition, an indigenous Aztec peasant named Juan Diego heard the voice of a woman calling to him from the hill of Tepeyac near Mexico City in 1531. He ascended the hill to see a woman clothed in light, who asked him to tell the Roman Catholic leaders in the area to build a church. The apparition of the Virgin Mary was brown-skinned and pregnant.
The Catholic bishop of Mexico City initially didn't believe Juan Diego and asked him to return another day with proof.
Flowers appeared on the hill, which Juan Diego cut and gathered in his cloak to show the bishop. When he unfurled his cloak, the flowers spilled out revealing the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. An imprint of the apparition appeared on Diego's tilma, or cape, in which he'd carried the roses.
Sparks said the statue is about 10 feet tall on the foundation base.