The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated on December 12 to commemorate the appearance of the Virgin Mary in the Americas. However, for the past four years, St. Paul’s Cathedral in the Diocese of San Diego has used that icon to spiritually empower Latinas in their Guadalupe Art Program.
The Guadalupe Art Program is a bi-lingual workshop for girls aged 8-17 that uses the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the most ubiquitous icon in Latino culture, to explore, develop, and deepen their spiritual lives through art, music, and dance. The art program addresses many of the negative issues within the participants’ culture and society at-large: oppression, sexism, abuse, addiction, and violence. The girls learn about and discuss positive changes that come through wise choices that can be implemented in their lives.
Aspects of the program include art, music, dance, education and pastoral care.
Through art, the girls use the image of Guadalupe as their model and paint themselves into her corona, thereby placing them within her loving aura. In doing this, they have the opportunity to explore their own sacred beauty. These images have now moved beyond the canvas and the same theme has been extended to the creation of jewelry, gardens, pottery, quilts, and photographic images.
The Cathedral celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 10, at 5 p.m., with Mañanitas -- Serenade to our Lady Guadalupe. The service featured actor Caitland Wachs (Commander in Chief), Jamie Donnelly (Grease), Enrique Moronas, E.D., human rights advocate, Danza Azteca de la Catedral, and Mariachi Real of San Diego, plus an Art and Altars exhibit in the Great Hall. The works of art have been displayed in exhibitions at several cathedrals -- Episcopalian and Roman Catholic -- in both Los Angeles and San Diego. Some of the work can be seen here.
The girls also use dance as an outlet to express spiritual and cultural identity. Using rebozos, colorful Mexican shawls, the girls interpret songs and stories related to Latino culture.
Education and pastoral care are other vital components of the program offering the girls information, support, and pastoral care in regard to the issues of abuse, addiction, and violence. The program employs and integrates the principles of ALATEEN, a 12-Step program for teens living in addictive homes and relationships.
Many of the girls currently in the program come from families that are undocumented and that struggle with issues of unemployment, social acceptance, racism, poverty and life in dangerous neighborhoods that are marked by violence and crime.
For more information on the Guadalupe Art Program call the Rev. Canon Mary Moreno Richardson, coordinator of Hispanic Ministry, at 619-298-7261 ext 332 or visit the web site.