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Perez Family Leads Pilgrimage for The Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe

By Ty Walker

Perez Family Leads Pilgrimage for The Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe

For more than a decade, Nolberto and Benita Perez have led a 15-mile pilgrimage down US Highway 26 to Sandy in celebration of The Day of The Virgin Of Guadalupe. This year, the longtime Welches couple wants to see more people join them on the journey.

Anywhere from 10 to 20 faithful typically take the seven-hour trip come rain, snow or shine. Anyone is welcome to brave the weather for the long walk from St. John In The Woods Church in Welches to St. Michael Church in Sandy. Pilgrims will gather and depart around 11 a.m. (or sooner) on Dec. 11 from St. John’s parking, at 24905 E Woodsey Way.

Catholics all over the world celebrate The Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe on Dec. 12 (though the local event is set for Monday, Dec. 11).

The Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe is the anniversary of one of several apparitions of the Virgin Mary witnessed by an indigenous Mexican named Juan Diego in 1531. It is a Mexican tradition for believers to take a pilgrimage in gratitude for the miracles they attribute to the Virgin.

Nolberto Perez practiced this tradition with his mother when he was a child in Mexico. About 20 participated in the first annual event Dec. 11, 2011, to accompany Pérez, who that same year was hospitalized when one of his lungs was failing. After several tests and procedures, he went into a coma. His family feared for his life.

“Doctors didn’t give him much hope,” Benita Perez said.

“People of faith gathered around him asking the Virgin of Guadalupe to intercede for Nolberto’s life to God,” she said. “He got out of the coma and today he dedicates his life to work for his family.”

Welches residents for 28 years, Nolberto and Benita Perez have a grown son, Nolberto Jr., who is a school teacher, and a daughter, Abby, a senior at Sandy High School. Both have participated in past long walks led by their parents. Nolbeto Jr. accompanied his father on the first one held.

Nolberto Perez is a heavy machine operator. He serves many different ministries at St. Michael Church and serves his community through Mt. Hood Lions Club.

The local pilgrimage culminates with a candlelight service and Mexican food at St. Michael Church, 18090 SE Langensand Road, Sandy. For more information on the Day Of The Virgin Of Guadalupe and the walk to Sandy, call 503-668-4446.

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