Celebrate your parish patron saints

By Father Guillermo Trevino

Do you know the feast day for the patron saint of your parish? Do you know the patron saint for your country or region you are originally from? I ask because at St. Joseph Parish in West Liberty, we know the answers to all of the above.

Contributed
Dancers from St. Joseph Parish in West Liberty perform in front of their church March 19 as part of the parish’s Feast of St. Joseph celebration.

When I arrived, July 1, 2018, as parochial vicar, I was told that a lot of parishioners from the state of Durango, Mexico, honored St. Bonaventure as their patron saint in their city. The feast of St. Bonaventure is July 15. As a result, they had a procession through the city with a police escort and a statue of St. Bonaventure on display during Sunday Mass and a reception at the fairgrounds. The people of that town in Mexico did all the work that day!

The feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint for Mexico and for all the Americas — North, Central and South — is Dec. 12. Parishioners in West Liberty again took the initiative and raised money for a mariachi band from Chicago. Before Mass, another procession through the city took place, with a police escort. The parish Guadalupe dance group worked really hard as they danced the whole parade route. We had a Mass on Sunday, Dec. 9, and a Mass on the actual feast day. Both Masses were filled, standing room only.

March 19 is the feast day of St. Joseph, the patron saint of the church in West Liberty. It was a great day. It might sound repetitive, but once again the West Liberty Police Department provided a police officer to give us an escort for that procession. It was great seeing the people who came out of their houses to watch the procession. The statue of St. Joseph was in a truck. The Knights of Columbus walked right behind it. A kid on his bike decided to join us as well as a kid on his Hoverboard. It was amusing because the kid on the Hoverboard was barefoot. A couple of parishioners walked as well. Last, but not least, was the Guadalupe parish dance group. It was about a 40-minute walk. We also saw people get out of their cars to record the procession.

People also walked on the sidewalk. I’m certain some were not even Catholic! We celebrated a bilingual Mass. Father Rudolph Juarez, the pastor, preached. I was the main celebrant. Retired former pastor, Father Dennis Martin, was also present.

A beautiful procession led to the start of Mass, with altar servers, Knights of Columbus, Guadalupe dancers and three priests. It couldn’t get better than that! However, it did. The English choir sang the parts of the Mass during the beautiful liturgy. Afterwards, we enjoyed a potluck.
This reminds me to note the power of getting out of our churches and into our communities! With proper planning, the city is willing to help. We have received lots of help from outsiders. These celebrations bring people in. After the procession through town for St. Joseph’s feast day, I yelled to the crowd that “Mass will start soon!” Some people who don’t go to Mass joined us that day. Let us honor the patron saints from our communities, all of them! It brings great awareness to the community of its own beautiful history and traditions.

(Father Guillermo Trevino is parochial vicar of St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City and St. Joseph Parish in West Liberty.)

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