By Kathy Hanks

The Hutchinson News

Gabe's father, Sebastian, built the massive frame years ago to hold the painting by Ed Curiel. Every December at this time it's displayed prominently in the sanctuary.

Inside the empty church it appeared that each pew had recently been oiled. Plus, the nearby Madonna Hall was also getting a workover, with several volunteers waxing floors and hanging new blinds. Others will come throughout the week to vacuum and cook in preparation for 7 p.m. Friday.

That's when there will be much celebrating with the start of a mariachi band Mass complete with Matachine dancers in full costume at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. After all, it will be the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a title of the Virgin Mary which is significant to Hispanic Catholics.

At South Hutchinson, Dec. 12 also coincides with the 50th anniversary of the current church building at 612 S. Maple St. The original church was established on West Avenue E and Adams Street in Hutchinson in November 1927.

Friday evening is an opportunity for those who are not of the Catholic faith to share in a cultural, mystical experience.

Just imagine how Juan Diego, a native, must have felt back in 1531 when, according to Catholic tradition, the Virgin Mary appeared to him four times on a hill outside of Mexico City. She instructed him to tell the local bishop of her wish that a church be built there. After the bishop became convinced of the genuineness of the apparition by the evidence of a miraculously imprinted life-size figure of the Virgin Mary on Juan Diego's cloak, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe was built. In 1910, Pope Pius X designated Our Lady of Guadalupe as the patroness of Latin America. For centuries the basilica has been a center of devotion and pilgrimage.

Among the special guests for the celebration in South Hutchinson will be Father Colin Boor, who had been the pastor at Our Lady for 27 years.

Now 88, Boor is an iconic figure with a long history as a priest. Growing up in Odin, near Great Bend, he was struck by a car while riding a bike when he was 12. His right arm was severely injured and gangrene set in, but Boor refused to allow a doctor to amputate. Instead, several nuns prayed for his healing and he recovered. Because of the experience, at the young age of 13 he decided to enter seminary and become a priest.

"It's like the Second Coming," said the current parish pastor, Father Ned Blick, joking about Boor's return for the celebration.

Blick describes the weekend events as a great time.

"I might pull out my trumpet," Blick said about his role in the festivities. "But only if the Spirit moves me."

(c)2014 The Hutchinson News