Story by Reagan Scott
HASTINGS (SNR) - Bishop James Conley will celebrate Mass at the Adams County Fairgrounds in Hastings Dec. 9 as part of a yearly celebration for Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast is Dec. 12.
Father Julius Tvrdy, the director of Hispanic Ministry in Hastings, said that while it would be ideal to celebrate on Dec. 12, having the celebration on Saturday gives more people the chance to come together for the event.
The festivities, which are open to all, will begin with a rosary at 4 p.m. followed by Mass with the bishop. At 5 p.m., a free dinner will be served with pulled pork, rice and tortillas. The evening will conclude with a program of music by a Mariachi band and Matachines dancing.
“Matachina is part of our people’s Mestizo heritage and reaches back to the earliest times of Mexico, Father Tvrdy said. “It is performed as a prayer to our Lady.
“Because the festival is being celebrated on Saturday,” he continued, “other Matachines groups, such as the group from Schuyler, may join in our festival and in return, our group of dancers will join Schuyler on Sunday in their celebration.”
The event, which can see attendance of 500 to 800 people, is organized by the Hastings Catholic Hispanic community with many community sponsors who will help to offset the cost of the celebration.
“There is a great sharing of joy on this day, and I’m very impressed with it,” Father Tvrdy said.
This year, the Catholic Hispanic community in Hastings, also known as Santa Cruz, has moved its liturgical celebrations from their former location at the Crosier Monastery Chapel to St. Cecilia Church.
The monastery, which housed the Canons Regular of the Order of the Holy Cross, or Crosiers, was vacated in 2000 due to the order’s aging population and dwindling numbers.
However, the Hispanic and Vietnamese communities in Hastings were able to continue to use the space until their recent move.
“We hope that the move will help bring greater unity and fellowship between all members of the St Cecilia’s parish family,” Father Tvrdy said.
It is Father Tvrdy’s hope that the upcoming celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe will be a way to help the two communities come together.
He noted the importance of serving the Hispanic community saying, “They are all part of our Catholic family, and we have to find ways to serve them to the best of our ability. I served in South America, so it’s natural to me. I know the culture and have a love for the people.”
Father Tvrdy served the Hispanic community in Hastings part-time for nine years in the 1990s and was excited to be appointed to the position full-time, because he knew a lot of the people there. However, he wasn’t the first person to reach out to the community.
In fact, it was Brother Jim of the Crosiers who was the first to begin Spanish-language outreach in the area in the 1980s.
Despite the fact that so much time has passed, one thing remains the same, and that is the Hispanic peoples’ devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“It is a real devotion that touches the hearts of the Mexican people,” Father Tvrdy explained. “Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego, recognizing the dignity and importance of the native people. It has created a rich history of celebration. We hope that all from the Hastings area feel free to join us in this prayerful and exciting celebration.”