It seems like every year something happens and I have missed meeting up with this wonderful group of people when they get to my area. The International Antorcha Guadalupana (Guadalupan Torch) Relay Race is an event that is sponsored each year by the Tepeyac Association of New York. The race began on October 3rd at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica in Mexico City and will end on December 12th at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.
The Association estimates that 25,000 registered runners are involved this year as well as any number of spontaneous runners who will accompany the torch and the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe as they progress through Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississipi, Alabama, Georgia, So. Carolina, No. Carolina, Virginia, Washington, DC, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. A complete calendar of when the Antorcha will be where is available here. It will be in the Woodbridge/Manassas area on December 1st and in Washington, DC on December 2nd and it usually makes a stop at the White House.
Here is more information about the purpose of this action from the Tepeyac Association Web site:
To unite people and families that are separated by the borders of the two countries, as well as to promote friendship and solidarity between different community groups in both countries.
The International Guadalupan Torch Relay Race...Mexico-New York, unites two nations and millions of families divided by a border. The starting point is a very sacred place in Mexico, the Guadalupan Basilica. Along its journey, the torch passes first through Mexico, through the states where the families of Mexican immigrants who are based in New York live. And then through the United States, where the immigrants live, work, and endure everything. During this relay race, the families of Mexican immigrants run and have passed the torch from hand to hand, knowing that the same torch, later on, will be carried by their relatives through the states of the North American nation until arriving at its final destination in New York City.
According to an interview given by its executive director Joel Magallán, this year the Tepeyac Association also hopes to gather at least 7,000 postcards from the runners to President Obama and Congress supporting the US Conference of Catholic Bishops' call for comprehensive immigration reform.
Let's pray for and support these courageous and faithful people as they come through our communities and go out and stand in solidarity with them.
Here is a video of the Torch crossing the border between Matamoros, Mexico and Brownsville, Texas. It was a bittersweet moment -- a handoff facilitated by the Mexican consul in Brownsville -- because the runners who had accompanied the Torch from Mexico City were prevented by our immigration policies from staying with it in the United States. Some of those interviewed in this video compared the moment to when a loved one crosses la frontera. You "hand them over" to God and whatever fate they will meet up north and trust and pray that they will be well cared for there. They also speak of their devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe and their hope that this event will be a way of encouraging others to pray for Her intercession.