Hispanic community in Greenwood celebrates Guadalupe

GREENWOOD — Two religious events in Spanish were added to the calendar of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in addition to the Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Christmas Mass in Spanish this year. The new celebrations were a night of serenades to the Virgin of Guadalupe and las Posadas, which is a Mexican Christmas tradition.

Approximately 300 Hispanics gathered in the dim glow of the benediction lights of Our Lady of Lourdes Church Dec. 11 on the eve of the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe to pray the rosary led by Father Timothy Tebalt and serenade the patroness of the Americas.

The statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe was adorned with dozens of white and red flowers and backed by a curtain of red, white and green to represent the Mexican flag.

Songs were sung in honor of Mary by three choirs, one of which was a children’s choir with the boys and girls dressed in traditional, colorful outfits. Parishioners were treated to tamales and hot chocolate prepared by members of the community following the serenades.

On Dec. 12, Mariachis arrived in the evening to accompany a procession around the church and play the music at the Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The event was standing room only with an estimated 800 people present. The altar was adorned with additional images of the Virgin, which were blessed by Father Tebalt at the end of the liturgy.

Many children also were present and dressed in embroidered peasant blouses, multi-colored skirts or khaki pants, shirts and hats. Several boys were dressed as St. Juan Diego, the humble and poor Nahua tribesman to whom the Blessed Mother appeared over four days in December 1531.

Three nights of Posadas were celebrated at the parish Dec. 21-23. The rosary was prayed as Father Tebalt and parishioners walked around the church with candles and reenacted Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging in Bethlehem.

Two teenagers dressed as the holy couple. The procession stopped at the first two doors of the church, sang the traditional song asking for lodging and was denied entrance.

At the third door, the procession was allowed to enter. Participants were invited to a fiesta with tamales, hot punch, and piñatas and bags of candy for the children.

Submitted by Dana Gonzalez.