Setting out on foot each evening, parishioners of St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church began their nine-day celebration in anticipation of the birth of Jesus with a traditional Las Posadas, which translates to “lodging” or “shelter.” The first day of their journey began Monday, Dec. 16 and continued each day, typically in the evening, except on Christmas Eve when they set out at 2:45 p.m., which was the last day of the event.
“They start with prayers and hymns and start with a candlelight procession visiting homes re-enacting Mary and Joseph’s search for a place where Jesus could be born,” said member Terri Beltran. “We knock on the doors of the visiting homes and sing, asking for lodging. The owner says no ... this is done three times. The tradition re-enacts the story told in Luke 2:1 – 7.”
Following the procession, the group enjoys a meal provided by different families in the parish hall, “and the children break the piñatas representing the seven deadly sins which are greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, sloth and pride,” Beltran said. “We learn from Las Posadas that by welcoming the poor and the needy, we are welcoming Jesus into our lives.”
Each day, different children volunteer to dress up as angels and shepherds or to play the part of Mary and Joseph.
This is the second year the pilgrims are visiting homes asking for lodging.
“We try to stay in the St. Robert Bellarmine area because of heavy traffic,” Beltran said. “We do have a police escort each night unless they are called back due to an emergency. This is the first year we are having a live pony (donkey) for Mary to ride. Shorty is a pet pony that is so friendly his owner Raphael Ramos says Shorty is part of his family and eats with them in the kitchen.”
While Shorty is on loan from Ramos, Beltran’s husband Augie tends to his daily needs and transports him to the church each day.
On the first day, the group visited the Carmelo Mireles’ home. Mary is played by Daiana Delgado who also rides Shorty the pony. Other volunteers include Alejandro Medina (Joseph), Carlos Gutierrez (guide), Bianca Reyna and Lydia Dominguez (angels), Salvador Rosales, Carlos Gutierrez and Flor Rosales (shepherds) Salvador Rosales, Carlos Gutierrez and Flor Rosales.
“We thank everyone who participated with music, food and Terry Stanphill, El Campo Chief of Police and Officer Auriela Mendez for the police escort,” Beltran said.
A host of others who helped were Amanda Aguilar, Alma Rosales, Laura Reyna and Lucrecia Rosales with the candles, wardrobe designer was Maria Castro. Members of the choir included Tina Tamez, Marisol Moreno, Veronica Canelo and Paula Martinez. Frances Martinez and Frank Aguliar and their families provided meals. Pilgrim holders were Claro and Abel Delgado, Frank Aguilar and Anthony Catete.
Homes being visited during the nine-day Las Posadas include Carmelo Mireles, Fidel and Solome Vargas, Marisol and Amado Moreno, Norma and Adan Sanchez, Pete Quintana, Amanda and Claro Delgado, Angie and Juan Limones, Louis Nunez and Juanita Nunez.
Terri Beltran and Marisol Moreno are serving as co-chairpersons for locating the visiting homes.