KENNER, La. (WGNO) — Saturdays at Divine Mercy Catholic Church, the Hispanic community comes together to sing praises to the Lord in their language.
Listening in is a blessed figure—also from their community.
“This is the image of Our Lady of Suyapa,” says Fr. Luis Duarte, pointing at a small statue of Mary in an elaborate wooden case inside a nook in the church. “That is the patroness of Honduras.”
Our Lady of Suyapa is important to Catholics in Honduras. A basilica near the country’s capital, Tegucigalpa, has a shrine dedicated in her honor. There, pilgrims from all over come to visit a small statue of Our Lady of Suyapa with a miraculous story. Here, the statue in Kenner serves a similar purpose with its own story.
“In the Archdiocese of New Orleans, the Honduran community is the biggest Hispanic community,” explains Fr. Luis. “It is very important for them to have Our Lady of Suyapa. Now, it has become like a home for Hondurans.”
When Fr. Luis came to Divine Mercy Parish, there was no statue. But there was a prime location.
“They had that desire in their hearts to have an image of Our Lady of Suyapa,” he says. “And, this niche was empty.”
Parishioners raised money to hire an artist to make the statue and a case to hold it. But, when it came time to ship the finished piece, a problem we are all too familiar with delayed their plans.
“It was supposed to be here for the great feast of Our Lady of Suyapa on February 3,” says Fr. Luis. “But, because of the hurricanes that hit Honduras and Central America, we couldn’t have the image for that day.”
It’s times like these when Catholics pray to Our Lady of Suyapa for help. And, someone was listening.
“God always sends angels,” says Fr. Luis. “And a lady, she had a container. And she brings fruit from Honduras. So she said, father, I can make room for Our Lady.”
The Archdiocese of New Orleans enthroned Our Lady of Suyapa at Devine Mercy Catholic Church in May. The church holds masses in Spanish on Saturdays at 7:00 p.m.