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Archbishop George J. Lucas blesses the new Centro Pastoral Tepeyac (Tepeyac Pastoral Center) located in the former St. Mary School in south Omaha during a July 27 ribbon cutting and dedication. Assisting him are Father Scott Hastings, vicar for clergy and judicial vicar, left, Deacon Luis Valadez of Assumption-Guadalupe Parish and Deacon Gregorio Elizalde of St. Peter Parish, director of Latino Ministry for the archdiocese. ROBERT ERVIN

A group of chinelos, traditional costumed dancers popular in the Mexican state of Morelos, performs at the opening celebration of Centro Pastoral Tepeyac July 27. ROBERT ERVIN

New pastoral center helps Hispanic community encounter Jesus

In December 1531, the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Juan Diego on Tepeyac hill in what is now Mexico City. Day after day she appeared in the same place and asked him to get permission from the bishop to build a chapel there in her honor. 

The bishop refused until he received a sign, so Mary sent Juan Diego back to the bishop with a cloak full of roses he’d gathered from the rocky hillside – a miracle in itself since roses didn’t grow there in December. 

When he opened his cloak to show the bishop, a miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, as she would later be known, was imprinted there.

Nearly 500 years later, God still touches the lives of his people through Our Lady of Guadalupe. With an inaugural Mass on July 27 at St. Mary Church in Omaha, Archbishop George J. Lucas officially opened Centro Pastoral Tepeyac, or Tepeyac Pastoral Center, the new home of the Hispanic Ministry Office of the Archdiocese of Omaha. 

At the conclusion of Mass, he blessed a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which will stand on the second floor of the center a

In December 15s a reminder of Mary’s presence. 

The name “Tepeyac” was chosen for the center in view of the Virgin Mary’s appearance to St. Juan Diego. “For us, it’s the place where God meets his people through Our Lady of Guadalupe,” said Deacon Gregorio Elizalde, manager of the Hispanic Ministry Office.

The new center will host archdiocesan activities in Spanish, including retreats, workshops, formation for catechists and preparation for the sacraments of baptism and marriage. It will also be a meeting place of several Christian movements in the Latino community, including Youth/Young Adults for Christ (Jovenes Para Cristo), the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement (Movimiento Renovación Carismatica Catolica) and the Christian Family Movement (Movimiento Familiar Cristiano Catolico), he said.  

Centro Pastoral Tepeyac expands the Hispanic Ministry Office’s offerings with a conference hall that can hold 180 to 200 people and two smaller meeting rooms for 30 people each. Now, rather than vying for time and space at local parishes, archdiocesan activities in Spanish can occur in one place, Deacon Elizalde said.  

In his homily, the archbishop spoke of the world as a mixture of good and evil. God the Father looks upon his children with love, so he sent his son Jesus “as our brother and our Savior to protect us from evil and to bring us to what is good.” 

The construction of this new center creates an opportunity for the Hispanic community in the archdiocese to encounter Jesus in a very powerful way, he said. “Jesus wants to be with us right here in this community. We don’t have to look for him in faraway places; he comes here to be with us.”

“I’m grateful to God and to all of you for the establishment of this center,” the archbishop continued. “Here, Jesus will enter into our lives and our community. He’ll come where we experience many good things.”

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