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Community comes together to celebrate Las Posadas

| Thursday, December 5, 2019

Senior Carolina Robledo always looked forward to Las Posadas — a modern day reenactment of the Christmas story — as a young child. It was a fun way to pray, and the kids always got bags of candy at the end.

Now, as an Anchor intern with Campus Ministry, Robledo helped organize Notre Dame’s celebration of Las Posadas this year.

Natalie Weber | The Observer
Community members gather for an observance of Las Posadas. The celebration commemorates Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging in Bethlehem. Here the group is led by Cristian Araujo and Andres Walliser, who portrayed Mary and Joseph respectively.

“Las Posadas is a commemoration of the walk of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem to find a place for Jesus to stay,” she said. “This is done in the Latino tradition, and in my case, I’m very familiar with the Mexican tradition of doing it through song.”

First brought to campus by former Farley Hall rector Elaine DeBassige, Las Posadas is traditionally held over the course of nine days, but is shortened to three at Notre Dame. Members of the community gathered at Duncan Hall on Wednesday evening for the second night of the celebration.

The event began with prayer and readings from the Bible and a theological work. Then, participants, who stood outside the building, sang a back-and-forth hymn with a group of Duncan Hall residents, who stood inside the dorm. The hymn reenacted the exchange between Joseph, Mary and innkeepers who turned them away from lodging in Bethlehem.

After being turned away from Duncan, more than 30 Notre Dame community members walked to McGlinn Hall, where they listened to readings, sang the hymn to seek shelter and were turned away once again. They then journeyed over to Keough Hall, where the celebration concluded, and the pilgrims were finally accepted into the dorm.

Becky Ruvalcaba, who serves as Campus Ministry’s assistant director of multicultural ministry, said the Spanish title, Las Posadas, translates to “shelter” in English. 

“I think it’s another way for us to really celebrate this Advent season, really having a visual representation of that journey that we all take, that we all should be taking during this season — and really seeking to be able to have Jesus have shelter in our hearts,” she said. 

Senior and Anchor intern Cecily Castillo said Las Posadas can also remind people to reflect on the modern day social concerns involving shelter and refuge, such as immigration and homelessness.

“I think listening to each of the reflections and the readings, … it really sets our minds and our hearts on to bigger picture concerns that come up at this type of year,” she said. “So we really remember that, because in our faith, there should always be something that we can use to not only point ourselves towards God, but point ourselves into the concerns of others.”

Senior Andres Walliser, who portrayed Joseph on Wednesday night, also reflected on the connections between the tradition and modern day concerns.

“Going through the readings for each station is really relevant now,” he said. “It’s cool to tie our faith and the Church and how the Church has a role in immigration issues right now.”

Sophomore Cristian Araujo, who portrayed Mary, said even though she’s not Catholic, Las Posadas allowed her to connect with other members of the Latino community at Notre Dame, and learn more about the Catholic faith.

“It’s not necessarily just a Latino thing,” she said. “It’s just a cultural thing, just one of the many celebrations we have.”

Walliser also encouraged students to come to the celebration.

“For any cultural event, any Latino event we put on, I’m always happy to see people from outside the community, outside the culture,” he said. “I never people as outsiders. I always see ‘That’s really cool that someone’s interested in our thing.’”

John Draves, a junior in the Old College seminary, came to Las Posadas for the first time Wednesday night because he knows Anchor interns Robledo and Castillo, and knew other people from his dorm who would be attending. He said during a busy time in the school year, Las Posadas can help students celebrate the season of Advent and prepare for Christmas.

“[Las Posadas] doesn’t take too much time,” he said. “It’s nothing too hard to do. It’s something that anyone can just join in. It helps us commemorate this season in a more small, but yet intentional, way.”

The final night of Las Posadas will begin Thursday at 8 p.m. in Fisher Hall.

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About Natalie Weber

Natalie Weber graduated in 2020 from the University of Notre Dame, with a Bachelor of Arts in English and minors in journalism and computing. A native of Grand Junction, Colorado she most recently served as Managing Editor at The Observer. // Email: [email protected] // Twitter: @wordsbyweber

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