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By Petra Alexander

To celebrate the Feast of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Bishop Emeritus Gerald R. Barnes celebrated Mass at Our Lady of The Rosary Cathedral in San Bernardino on Dec. 8, with a special intention of praying for the Nicaraguan community and their protection under the Immaculate Conception.

In his Homily, Bishop Barnes highlighted the strength that emanates from Mary in the history of Salvation for the Nicaraguan community.

He went on to say that Mary, chosen to be the Mother of the Son of God, is the only one who is not reached by the power of the evil one. Bishop Barnes acknowledged that the people of Nicaragua have suffered greatly in their history and that it continues today in the countries with religious persecution and lack of human rights. Bishop Barnes compared the current sufferings with the difficult times leading up to the birth of the Savior.

The people were also dominated and felt threatened with no way to express their identity, Bishop Barnes explained. It was in a time of tyrants and injustice that Mary gave her “Yes,” when the Holy Spirit filled her with strength for her mission. Bishop Barnes encouraged everyone to continue praying for Nicaragua, and to nourish solidarity with all family members and acquaintances, because they are the ones who are most at risk and are most fragile.

Living in this country that has welcomed us, we commit ourselves to value democracy, freedom and the well-being of our communities. Our prayer to the Immaculate Conception should also be lifted up for the United States, that we may be a hospitable country that promotes true peace.

After the Eucharistic celebration, the Nicaraguans gathered in the hall with “vivas,” songs to the Immaculate Conception, and shared some time in a festive atmosphere to represent an image of their homeland and tradition.

Petra Alexander is the Director of Hispanic Affairs for the Diocese of San Bernardino.