Hundreds flock to Midlands for Guadalupe celebration


COLUMBIA — Four large Midlands celebrations of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe culminated with a Mass at St. Peter on the feast day itself, Tuesday, Dec. 12.

The final celebration also marked the start of a new Hispanic ministry in the deanery’s mother church, an effort welcomed by the priest whose life is consumed by his service to Spanish-speaking Catholics.

“I’m glad it’s starting here because there are many Hispanics in the area,” said Father Filemon Juya.

Germaine Carney, a member of St. Peter’s Hispanic Ministry, said that the parish is now offering a Spanish language Mass on the first Friday evening of each month.

“This is such a central location and there are a lot of Hispanic people working around here. Also, the ministry was mandated by the bishop,” Carney said.

Sara Millus, who teaches mostly Latinos in her English as a Second Language classes for Lexington School District 1, was also pleased with the latest development in diocesan Hispanic ministry. “All people deserve the opportunity to worship in their primary language,” Millus said, “and the population of Hispanics is really growing in Columbia.”

Some of Millus’ students were performers in the skit about the legend of Our Lady of Guadalupe that augmented Father Juya’s homily. The Mass was sung in Spanish and was concelebrated by Father Jose Juya of the Diocese of Charlotte and the pastor of St. Peter, Msgr. Leigh Lehocky. A reception followed.

Editor’s note: Father Filemon and his brother Jose both celebrated the 19th anniversaries of their ordinations to the priesthood on Dec. 12.