Eighteen Years of Celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe at SCU
Ana María Pineda, RSM
On Sunday, December 7, 2014, Santa Clara University in partnership with Sacred Heart Parish’s Teatro Corazón presented the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe in song and dance. The tradition began eighteen years ago through the efforts of María Socorro Castañeda, who was a SCU senior at the time and is now a faculty member in the Religious Studies Department. Prof. Castañeda-Liles had been inspired by Father Mateo Sheedy, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, who had a dream that the youth from the parish would have an opportunity to obtain a college education at a Catholic private university. Several other SCU members joined this effort, among them Pia Moriarty of the Eastside Project, Lulu Santana of Campus Ministry, Ana Maria Pineda,RSM of Religious Studies, and others.
At the heart of this dream was bringing together two communities-- Sacred Heart parish community and Santa Clara University. One connection was the creation of the Juan Diego Scholarship, a four-year scholarship to SCU for a member of the Sacred Heart Parish. Another link was bringing students of Professor Pineda's class, “Hispanic Spirituality: Our Lady of Guadalupe" into contact with the parish. Her's was one of the first university courses nation-wide completely dedicated to the topic of this significant Marian icon.
From the beginning, students visited Sacred Heart Parish every Friday evening to meet with the participants of Teatro Corazón. Through these extended conversations, students learned the profound significance of this celebrated Marian feast and the importance of community for Latinos. Throughout the years, class members participated in hosting the event on campus and some participated in the actual re-enactment of La Virgen del Tepeyac.
Three years ago, on the fifteenth anniversary of celebrating this event in the Mission Church of SCU, current course participants interviewed former students of Hispanic Spirituality: Our Lady of Guadalupe, which revealed the significance of interacting with Teatro Corazón/Sacred Heart Parish. One student explained that “For me the time talking with them is an opportunity to be out of the Santa Clara bubble and a time to immerse [oneself] into the community,” while another admitted that “It makes you appreciate what you have because you know there is that whole thing of how you [think] you are a poor college student, but when you see it from that perspective it makes you appreciate what you have...”
For others the class reestablished lost connections: “My experience brought me back to my roots, in a way. I felt that growing up I had lost a sense of my cultural identity. . . Becoming part of the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe made me feel part of the Latino community again; it made me want to learn more about my culture.” Another student reported that “ This class taught me to re-assess what I thought I knew about what it meant to be Latino, Catholic, Mexican-American, all of it.”
In conclusion, SCU has been enriched in countless ways by having this partnership with Teatro Corazón at Sacred Heart Parish. What students are taught in a classroom takes on greater meaning as they meet a community who lives the truths evidenced in the narrative of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The celebration has underscored the importance of education for all as two diverse communities are united through this cultural event.