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Infant Jesus Catholic Church in Hurley was dedicated on Saturday by Las Cruces Diocese Bishop Ricardo Ramirez as a diocesan shrine to Santo Niño de Atocha. Ramirez celebrated the occasion with a mariachi Mass. He also re-consecrated with chrism oil the altar for the church. It is the same oil that is consecrated each year before Easter, and is used in baptism and to ordain priests, as well as to consecrate new altars.

Before the Mass began, it was explained to the hundreds of people attending the celebration that the church is already an established parish church, and that the bishop would elevate it to a shrine to Santo Niño de Atocha, so it "becomes a larger family. People can come to venerate Santo Niño de Atocha."

Bishop Ramirez said it was appropriate to dedicate the church as a shrine over Labor Day weekend, because miners built the church with donations from their checks.

He explained the story of Santo Niño de Atocha as being known worldwide, especially in Mexico, Latin American countries and in the southwest U.S. "No, Atocha is not in Grant County," Ramirez said. "It is located just outside Madrid, Spain."

The Moors, Muslims, were in Spain for more than 800 years. "They left their mark on many words in Spanish, most of which begin with al, such as algodón, and even in the name Guadalupe, which is Arabic. Christian men were in prison because of their faith. In those days prisoners did not get food unless a child in their family could bring food to them. Some didn't have children, but a mysterious child would bring them food and fed the prisoners. That is part of the story of Santo Niño de Atocha.

"Because of the faith of the people, they would bring bread and water to a statue of Santo Niño de Atocha," Ramirez continued.

Ramirez said Jesus, el Santo Niño, from his birth "was destined to feed us in an earthly and spiritual manner. He was born in Bethlehem, which means in Arabic, House of Bread. Jesus was put in a crib, which is where food was placed for animals. This points to the Eucharist."

He continued that the way for those attending the celebration to feed bread to Jesus is through apostleship. "This is the beginning of the Year of Faith. We're invited to grow in our faith through reflection, prayer and service to others."

He also said: "I must mention care of children. Parents should provide a beautiful home of respect and love. Allow nothing to tarnish children's lives—no drugs or violence."

Ramirez concluded his remarks by saying: "Someday, another bishop will take this diocesan shrine, and it will become a national shrine."

During the Mass, he dedicated the altar, which was then dressed with altar cloths by women of the parish. Ramirez also dedicated the church as a shrine and blessed the statue of Santo Niño de Atocha.

The mariachi Mass was sung by Corazones del Desierto of Deming.

Photos by Mary Alice Murphy

Live from Silver City

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