Celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at Yale’s Saint Thomas More Chapel

Fr. Eddie De León, CMF, reflects on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration at Yale University’s St. Thomas More Catholic Chapel and Center where he serves as Assistant Chaplain.

The sound of the crack of the bat may have made you think that you were at a ballgame, but the accompanying melodic Mariachi music and laughter filling the air told you differently. It was the annual celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the students at Yale University were attempting to break the swinging piñata after the 10 pm Mass. After the piñata was broken and the candies claimed, the Yale Folkloric Ballet danced and a Mariachi trio concluded the event.

This annual event has become a tradition at St. Thomas More Chapel on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. It is a celebration that the students and community regard as their own. It began four years ago with a simple bilingual 10 pm Mass and has grown exponentially.

Now the celebration features three bilingual Masses with Mariachi music at the chapel. Through the years more students have attended, and we’ve added a guest preacher at all the Masses and a guest speaker and Mexican meal after the 5 pm Mass. The culmination of this celebration takes place at the 10 pm Mass with a candlelight procession of students—mariachis and dancers in tow.

However, to see this celebration through the lens of cultural tourism would be to miss the point of our annual gathering. The power in our festivities is the acknowledgement of our cultural diversity within the Catholic Church. At this event, we accompany the nearly 1,000 Latino Yale students, as we will in the coming months with our Asian, African American, and Native American students through other forms of celebrations, speakers, and panel presentations. We are fortunate to have such diversity in our Church, and these occasions are both an opportunity and a privilege to enter a culture other than our own to learn, celebrate, and accompany each other as a global Church!