Portolá 250 – Our Lady of Peace: She Waits!
As we drove to Our Lady of Peace in the city of Santa Clara, we were met with many Golden State Warrior fans and of course 49er fans as their stadium is located there. We were also met with one of the largest Marian shrines on the West Coast, a 32-foot tall steel statue that stands rather unexpectedly in Silicon Valley which I imagined is not usually thought of as a destination for pilgrimages. Well, time to think otherwise!
Welcoming visitors 24 hours a day, the outdoor shrine has beautiful grounds for veneration and relaxing. In 1983, the sculpture was commissioned by former Msgr. John L. Sweeney who was also the former pastor of Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Santa Clara. With a special blessing by Pope St. John Paul II, Bishop Pierre DuMaine dedicated the statue along with the encompassing shrine.
What stood taller, much taller than the statue and as high as the heavens was the devotion of the people. On this Monday, the parish was full beginning with a Noon Mass celebrated by Father Brian and full array of altar boys who were well trained.
In his homily, Father spoke how about at this time of our struggle, our contest is at hand and it is Our Lady and her attentiveness, her desire, and her Immaculate Heart that enables us to be salt and light in the world in order to bear testimony of things eternal and to adhere to the will of the Father. He spoke about the importance of unity where we are united in mind and heart saying, “we for us, and us for you.” He asked especially the Blessed Mother to help us to know our purpose and to be good witnesses to her Son.
Eucharistic adoration followed Mass and then time for veneration of Our Lady of Fatima Pilgrim Statue and sacred Relics of Crown of Thorns, the Veil of the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph’s mantle and St. John Vianney provided courtesy of Catholic Action for Faith and Family.
The custodian of the statue, Larry Maginot gave a presentation of Our Lady of Fatima in the afternoon to the children of the parish and guests. At 5:15 PM, another Mass was celebrated followed by a Litany to Our Lady and a 15-decade rosary.
At 9:00 pm, an exit procession commenced from the parish to the 32-foot statue. As you can see, the priests and their flock who had been there since the beginning were still in devotion.
To conclude, I saw a sign earlier on the parish grounds quoting the verse from Jesus when He said to Peter, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?”
With the love and devotion of the Catholics in Santa Clara, they would have watched with Jesus all night. And Our Lady continues to wait 24 hours a day. To be honest, it was quite difficult for our pilgrim crew to inform them we needed to continue on with the promise we made to Catholics throughout the state to visit 21 missions in 21 days, asking Our Lady to shower her graces on everyone.
Just as Catholics brought Christianity to California 250 years ago, when you see a unified community in devotion like this, is there any question who puts Golden in Golden State?
“Always go forward and never turn back.”
~ St. Junípero Serra
P.S. A special shout out to parish administrator, Karen Ruiz and her team for their flawless coordination, planning and hospitality. All of you made it without a doubt a joyful experience for the pilgrims and we look forward to seeing you again.