Fr Fernando prepares WYD experience in his hometown

By Jordan Grantham, 2 October 2018
Fr Fernando Montano is Parish Priest of St Bernadette's Parish, Castle Hill. Photo: Diocese of Parramatta


Pilgrims to World Youth Day 2019 in Panama should prepare to say “Viva Cristo Rey y Santa Maria Guadalupe!” as part of the joyful and colourful culture of Hispanic Catholicism.

Fr Fernando Montano, parish priest of St Bernadette’s Parish, Castle Hill also hopes to say “Bienvenidos a Mexico!” to pilgrims from the Diocese of Parramatta.

Fr Fernando was in his native Mexico recently, visiting family and friends and preparing for the upcoming World Youth Day pilgrimage to Panama, which will include a cultural and service experience in Mexico City and Puebla for pilgrims in the diocesan group.

The intention is for the pilgrims to see different aspects of Mexico, which will include “seeing the pre-Hispanic culture, the beautiful churches from Colonial times, 16th century, 17th century baroque and today,” Fr Fernando said.

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The pilgrims will have the chance to have an encounter with local young volunteers and with people with different needs on one of the days in Mexico. Fr Fernando had to find appropriate agencies for the pilgrims to serve in and parishes to facilitate their stay.

It is also planned that pilgrims will see the Archbishop of Puebla, Victor Sánchez Espinosa at the large Seminary of Palafoxiano.

The miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

WYD pilgrims will have the opportunity to see the beauty of Mexico’s Catholic culture.

“All the churches are very nice, especially the colonial churches. No Catholic pilgrimage in Mexico is complete without going to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.”

“We have a strong devotion to Our Lady. Even on the TV morning shows we have in Mexico you will always see an image of Our Lady on the wall.”

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a Holy Day of Obligation and a massive celebration in Mexico.

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“That’s big, big, big,” Fr Fernando said.

Other important Mexican Catholic traditions are distinctive processions for the Day of the Dead, All Souls Day and the Feast of Corpus Christi.

“Well Mexico is a Catholic country, over 80% of the population is Catholic. Catholicity is everywhere.”

The Diocese of Parramatta World Youth Day pilgrims may be able to see the beginning of preparations for the Feast of the Presentation on February 2 when thousands accompany a procession with a statue of the baby Jesus.

Fr Fernando was also able to visit family and friends while in Mexico.

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