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Notre Dame community celebrates Las Posadas

| Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Notre Dame community gathered Tuesday night at the Grotto to kick off the fourth annual celebration of Las Posadas. The event, whose Spanish title means “lodging,” represents Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter before Jesus’s birth.

Traditionally, Las Posadas is celebrated over nine days, but at Notre Dame it only lasts for three ever since it was started by Farley Hall rector Elaine DeBassige, sophomore organizer Audrey Immonen said.

Katie Sisk and Gavin Ennis, dressed as Mary and Joseph, lead a group of students in Las Posadas. The annual Latino tradition celebrates Advent and consists of prayer, reflection and community.Rosie LoVoi

Katie Sisk and Gavin Ennis, dressed as Mary and Joseph, lead a group of students in Las Posadas. The annual Latino tradition celebrates Advent and consists of prayer, reflection and community.

“We’re hoping it’s a tradition that continues even when she’s not rector, so we’ve started to decentralize it; we’re working with Fisher Hall and Campus Ministry, who are hosting for the second and third nights,” she said.

DeBassige said she started the event because she missed celebrating it with her family in New Mexico.

“Every year since I can remember, my mom has hosted,” she said. “When I was growing up, people would dress up as Mary and Joseph and someone would lend a donkey for Mary to ride to the house. Once you’re in the house, it would be blessed by the priest for the advent season.”

Beginning at the Grotto, attendees — led by Mary and Joseph, portrayed by junior Katie Sisk and sophomore Gavin Ennis — walked and sang hymns as they made their way to Farley Hall, the organizer of the event and host for its first night.

Both Ennis and Sisk said portraying the couple was a very spiritual experience.

“It was such a gift, reflecting on what it was like to carry God next to [Mary’s] heart,” Sisk said.

Along the way, stops were made to read passages from the Bible and Latino theological works.

“I chose [readings] close to immigration, because that’s such a current topic,” DeBassige said. “I thought that’s a natural thing to talk about, especially since Mary and Joseph were migrating from one place to another. It just seemed very appropriate to focus on that.”

Many students who attend have never heard of Las Posadas before but appreciate learning more about Latino spirituality and culture, DeBassige added.

“The campus is growing in diversity,” she said. “There’s a large Latino community here, so a lot of students have told me when I brought Las Posadas here that they felt like they were home again.

“I think that to share pieces of your life on campus with other people, that’s how we become closer together — and to get a little picture of somebody’s world.”

DeBassige also stressed the social element of the event, in addition to the prayers, hymns and worship. Once the group arrives at the destination for the night, the host location serves food and beverages to provide an opportunity to socialize.

“In the Catholic Church, we pray as a community. And if we don’t come together as a community, then it’s just not as fun,” she said. “I want to encourage everyone to come. There’s friendship and food afterwards, so there’s no downside to it.”

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About Megan Valley

Megan Valley is one of the Associate News Editors for The Observer. A junior majoring in English and the Program of Liberal Studies, she hails from Flushing, MI and lives in Flaherty Hall.

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