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GRANTS, N.M. (ChurchMilitant.com) - An embattled mayor from a small town in New Mexico has consecrated his town to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
On Tuesday, Fr. Alberto Avella of St. Teresa Parish in Grants, New Mexico consecrated the town of Grants to the Blessed Virgin Mary — at the request of its mayor, Martin "Modey" Hicks.
At the ceremony, which took place at 1 p.m., Mayor Hicks spoke to the crowd that was gathered.
"This is about unity, it is about praying to our Lord God to protect everybody in this town and unite us," Hicks asserted, "because that's what this country needs right now. We've got enough division. And that's what this is about ... This is about protection from our divine Father."
When asked what he hoped to accomplish by the Marion consecration, Hicks responded, "We're going to be protected. No matter what happens, we'll be protected."
One woman, who drove two and a half hours to Grants from Santa Fe, was very exuberant to join in on the consecration.
"I am so excited," she said. "Every mayor across the country who is Catholic needs to do this. This is the time."
One man present said he was there to show his support to his Catholic community and to "consecrate the grounds to Our Lady."
After Avella concluded the consecration ceremony, the community prayed the Rosary in front of a statue of the crucified Christ and a picture of His mother as Our Lady of Guadalupe.
One woman who attended the consecration was visibly moved.
"Beautiful," she said. "We need Our Lady. She's the one that crushes the snake."
Another woman also present responded that we need "more leaders in our Church." The word "courage" was heard from yet another person in the background. Two little boys said that they enjoyed the Rosary and pray it every day.
Hicks has butted heads with New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham about reopening businesses, wearing masks and reopening churches. He now faces a $5,000 penalty after participating in a Fourth of July event in defiance of the governor's order.
The state Department of Health accused the mayor of conducting a parade in violation of a public health order prohibiting mass gatherings throughout the state. Hicks is contesting the fine, insisting the event was a protest protected by his constitutional rights.
The mayor had earlier encouraged businesses in Grants to reopen in defiance of the state's public health orders. In May, the state Supreme Court issued an order prohibiting him from operating city facilities in violation of the health regulations. Hicks contends, however, that other public events like a rodeo and protests against racial injustice have gone forward without the same state action that he's had to face.
"What's really amazing is how they come after me and my town when we have a protest that's peaceful," Hicks exclaimed. The governor "singles me out because I'm standing up for the Constitution of the United States of America."
In April, Hicks gave businesses permission to reopen without the governor's permission and ordered the police force in the city of about 9,000 people to prevent any state police officers from issuing lockdown violation citations.
"Why worry about the inevitable?" Hicks said with a smile during the consecration. "We're going to be protected."