POSADA ANNUAL 2011 (Posada: home, dwelling, lodge)
COMITE TIMON (Steering Committee of the New Sanctuary Movement, Milwaukee of Voces de la Frontera – Immigrant Workers Center)
I found participating in the planning for our annual Posada uncomfortable but rewarding. Columbians, Mexicans, Heritage latinos, and Milwaukeeans don’t see the Christmas story the same way. (Heritage latino: one born in the U.S. who learns the language and traditions from immigrant latino parents and grandparents) We had lots to sort out: Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem, Wise men, Shepherds, Sunday of the Holy Family, the presentation in the Temple, Our Lady of Guadalupe. Again we asked: what is a Posada, a novena, the Rosary – is it necessary, what songs do we sing, how does it relate to our work, can we do it?
Sanctuary Coordinator and recent U.W.M. graduate Nancy Flores was our discussion leader. Nancy, a young, heritage latina, led us deftly through the maze, and we came up with a plan. The successful plan was only possible with the wise counsel of moms and grandmothers, members of the “Comite.” One was a mom – grandmother whose son was deported to Mexico and was killed. Another was a woman whose husband had been deported and left her with a large family of children and grandchildren. They recounted past Posadas here and in Mexico and explained what they meant. From experience they knew the Christmas story.
It was a chilly December night and forty of us left the office of Voces and processed four blocks to a neighborhood community center called “Bucket Works.” It was cold and windy, but our candles were protected by cups and we wore our winter clothes. We were accompanied by children, two of them dressed to represent Mary and Joseph on their trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census mandated by the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus. Mary was with child expected to be born in Bethlehem.
We walked singing hymns in Spanish. Nancy and the Grandmas led; they knew the words. A tall young heritage latino man also knew the words. He took time off from the “Recall Walker Campaign” to be with us.
When we reached our destination, half the group went inside and the other half remained in the cold including Mary and Joseph. Those outside pleaded entrance. After a sung dialogue the outsiders were allowed to enter.
“Entren santos peregrines, reciban este Rincon no de esta pobre morada sino de mi corazon.” (Come in holy pilgrims, not to this poor house but to my heart.) Gradually more people with children joined us.
We read the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke. Father Alvaro of the Old Catholic Church read a reflection prepared by Nancy. The reflection noted that Mary and Joseph represent the immigrants of today. It is our duty to welcome all into our community.
One of the moms was asked to share a recent close call. She recounted that she had been stopped by the police for going through a stop sign while driving out of a grocery store parking lot. The police followed her a few blocks before they stopped her. She claimed that she did not go through a stop sign, and the officer evidently agreed, but gave her a ticket for not having a drivers’ license. A very dangerous incident; she thanked Voces and Sanctuary for support.
THEN SOME PRAYERS: (My translation)
Our Father, in heaven, make present here the joy intended for us.
Greetings Mary and pilgrims; you bring the chance for salvation.
Glory to God, and thanks to God for the joy of sharing with family.
A Madrina, godmother, for Mary’s baby was chosen. The baby will be consecrated to the Lord by the family and the Madrina in February.
It was time for the Piñata. The kids’ patience paid off. A big second grader smashed the hanging plaster of Paris image and candy sprayed everywhere. The second grader’s great-grampa, Jim Cusack was delighted.
We celebrated eating tamales, prepared by the grandmothers, and drinking hot chocolate. One of the moms I talked to said she was appreciative of the Posada, but was concerned for the safety of her daughter, the Voces Director, who was in Alabama for a march to the Alabama Capital, Montgomery.
Festivities were closed by singing happy birthday to one of the moms.
When we arrived home there was an e-mail waiting from one of the Voces people who was in Alabama. “I find myself in Montgomery, Alabama after a wonderful national march in opposition to the worst anti-immigrant legislation in the nation, bill HB 56.”
Good work, hermano, God is with us. ¡Si, se puede!