On Friday afternoon I had the pleasure of attending a quinceanera Mass for the granddaughter of two of my former patients. Victoria was born 15 years ago on August 14 and broke a long string of grandsons in the family. She has been the little princess of the family and on Friday she appeared as such. Surrounded by her many doting aunts, uncles, cousins, godparents, and of course her parents and grandparents, she was truly the belle of the ball (which was to follow the Mass!).
The Mass was celebrated at a small church out in the lower valley near where we used to live. The priest, like me, had been welcomed into the family many years ago. He is originally from Colombia and recounted fondly how the Ochoas had become his home away from home. He referred to Victoria as “mi hija espiritual” (my spiritual daughter) and spoke of his joy in seeing her grow to adulthood in faith as well as in mind and body.
The beautiful rituals of this special liturgy recall baptism in many ways. She was blessed and signed with the cross by her parents, godparents, and grandparents. She received the candle signifying the light of Christ from the hands of same dear family members. She renewed her baptismal promises and shared her gratitude to God for arriving safely at her fifteenth birthday. Accompanied by her entire family she presented roses at the feet of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
I have attended many quinceaneras during my years in the Southwest but none have been as steeped in faith and family as this one. Victoria’s grandparents, Josefina and Armando, have truly passed on the gift of faith to their children and grandchildren. I shared Fr. Celimo’s gratitude for being welcomed into this family: so many Christmases, Mother’s Days, weddings, baptisms…This is a special blessing for priests and religious who must often miss their own family celebrations!
As I drove away from the little church in the valley my heart was full of gratitude for the privilege of knowing this Mexican-American family. How my life has been enriched by their gracious hospitality!