Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Working in a parish where the preponderance of the people are Latino, we have a huge celebration for Our Lady of Guadalupe on the Sunday closest to her feast. I decided to share some pictures that my brother took of Our Lady's procession from last year. Though it was drizzly and nasty outside, there was still quite a crowd for the procession.
Along the route of the procession last year, the group stopped to pay their respects a at makeshift monument to 10 people who died in a fire: all parishioners. Sadly, we are faced with a similar tragedy this year, having lost 5 people in a fire last weekend.
Upon reaching the church the crowd was overflowing into the staircases and hallways. Though this crowd is a little larger than the usual Sunday crowd, it is not that much bigger and we have standing room only crowds even at regular Sunday Masses. We are currently trying to raise the money to improve our church space and give people more room to sit. But, I suspect that the room will fill to capacity very soon, anyway.
I have to say that I have tremendous respect for the Latinos in our parish. They work hard, pray hard, and play hard. The colorful culture and music is so refreshing, vibrant and lovely, and their expression of faith is so genuine and unforced. Their devotion to Our Lady is so strong. It makes me question whether the "good Catholic Education" I received really did me all that much good. I wish I had the relationship with Mary that these folks do. They inspire me with their faith. It must be very hard to leave everything that you know and can count on to come to a new place. I can only imagine.
Still, they bring their wonderful cultural thumbprints to our American Melting Pot, and their families, like the rest of us former immigrant families, learn to be "American". And, in the process share some of their culture with us, to enrich us.
After the Mass we all enjoyed some delicious fresh food (TAMALES!!! YUM!!!), and great Mariachi music and folk dancing. Needless to say, I am really looking forward to this year's celebration on Sunday!
Pictures by Joseph Harris (December 2007)