Early on in yesterday’s half marathon, just after entering Bonelli Park, I thought of La Virgen de Guadalupe. December 12th is her feast day, and it’s a big deal for Mexicans. I’ve been celebrating the day La Virgen Morena appeared to Juan Diego in the hills of Tepeyac in 1531 since I was a kid. I was born in to a family of Guadalupanos; we always participate in a big party at our home parish.
As I ran and admired the scenery, I imagined that my parents and grandparents were in Mass. Afterward, they would continue the celebration at the O’Callaghan Center. While I neared the finish line, they’d probably be eating tamales and drinking champurrado while enjoying the mariachi and the danzantes Aztecas. I attended the celebration Mass and party afterward for the first time in years last year.
Since I wasn’t there with them, I thought of the half marathon as my “Mañanitas”, my dedication in honor of La Virgencita. “Las Mañanitas Tapatías” is always sung for her on the feast day. Whether it was good or bad, my run would be for la Virgencita.
It turned out good. Better than I could have imagined.
After the race, Sean and I drove to my parents’ house so I could shower and change. Dad was at work getting the house ready for Christmas. My grandparents were supervising, er, relaxing and enjoying the late morning. Mom wasn’t around.
Something was off.
“Was there no celebration for La Virgen de Guadalupe today?” I asked dad.
“No,” he shook his head sadly.
It finally dawned on me. There could be no party. The party was always held in the O’Callaghan Center. Since the fire destroyed St John Vianey in April, all Masses have been held in the large multi-purpose room.
This year, the celebration for La Virgen de Guadalupe had been downsized. SJVs Guadalupanos still came together at dawn for the traditional rosary and “Las Mañanitas”. However, instead of a big party to bring the community together, there would be a low key gathering with pan dulce and chocolate.
I’m sure the low key celebration for La Virgencita was still nice, but it saddens me to think about all that the SJV community lost in the fire.
Note: The mosaic above is from Virgen de Guadalupe shrine outside SJV. It survived the fire (see lower left in this photo)