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Are you wondering how God fits into your everyday life? How you can find your voice in your community and church? How you can get through another day of loss and grief? How you can make a difference in the world? What ideas you can embrace to nurture those in your family circle? How, in our diverse society, you can better appreciate another culture’s way of expressing belief in God? How to deepen your prayer life?
What life experience and wisdom you can share with others? If you are asking these thoughtful questions, the Called to Holiness series offers you much insight and encouragement for making sense of God and how you and your faith fit into the world—all from a woman’s perspective.
Covering such diverse topics as discovering the “theologian” inside yourself, dealing with change and loss, nurturing families or combating the social injustice in your community—and more, the eight Called to Holiness books will help you find God in the midst of your everyday life while empowering you on your individual faith journey.
Each volume in the series is penned by a Catholic woman theologian or expert and provides reading guides with discussion questions, rituals and applications to daily life as well as suggestions for further exploration of the topic.
Whether reading the Called to Holiness books on your own or with a group, you will find, in tangible ways, that your own life experiences reveal the sacred.
Initial funding for the Called to Holiness project was provided by Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities, Inc. (FADICA).
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GONZALEZ: MARKING A RITE OF PASSAGE FOR YOUNG LATINAS
Marking a rite of passage for young Latinas
“I did not want the white dress, the Mass, the dance with my father, or the court of friends that would accompany my entrance at the big party that would inevitably put my parents in debt.”
I never had a quinceañera.
I never wanted this rite that marks the passage to womanhood of many Latina and Latin American young women in their fifteenth year, that also provides occasion to give thanks to God for blessings and to present the young women to the community. Frequently celebrated in several countries in the Americas, including Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean, the quinceañera is often requested by Hispanic Catholics in U.S. dioceses.
I thoroughly rejected the quinceañera in my early teens, seeing myself as more on the American than Cuban side of the hyphen that categorizes my Cuban-American identity. I did not want the white dress, the Mass, the dance with my father, or the court of friends that would accompany my entrance at the big party that would inevitably put my parents in debt.
Twenty years later, I feel a twinge of regret at never being a quinceañera. Now that I sit comfortably on the hyphen and see the United States and Cuba as equal heritages I embrace, I regret much my youthful decision not to celebrate my own passage. The rite, I know now, would have united me with many of my Spanish-speaking sisters in the Americas.
Sustaining cultural identity
Today quinceañeras are often reduced to a big party, highlighted on shows like MTV’s “My Super Sweet Sixteen.” While the fiesta is a huge part of the celebration, quinceañeras include a religious ceremony, and in the United States are strong sustainers of cultural identity for young Latinas.
The historical origins of this rite of passage remain unclear to scholars, yet the current value of the quinceañera is undeniable. The celebration usually involves a Mass in a Catholic church, though as more and more Latino/as convert to Protestant denominations, quinceañera services also occur in these settings as well. The Mass symbolizes the young quinceañera’s commitment to Catholic morals and values, and her dedication to her faith as a young adult. The quinceañera processes into the church along with her court of fifteen friends, and during the Mass the young woman renews her baptismal vows. Certain gifts—religious and secular items that mark the young woman’s transition into adulthood— are blessed during the Mass that seeks to integrate the quinceañera’s rite of passage with her Catholic faith and her community.
Empowering young women
The quinceañera not only emphasizes the importance of Catholic faith for a young Latina, but also highlights her cultural heritage in the United States as a Latina. This strong affirmation of Hispanic identity can be a source of empowerment for a young woman living in a dominant culture that often belittles or misunderstands Hispanic cultural values. This ritual simultaneously integrates Catholic and Latina identity, becoming an example of popular Catholicism that demonstrates the manner in which all of our faith expressions are intimately tied to our cultural values. In uniting the quinceañera’s family, friends and church, the celebration emphasizes the importance of community to one’s faith and culture.
Perhaps that is why now I regret not having my “quince.” I do not miss the party or all the materialism that has unfortunately crept into these celebrations (there are even quinceañera cruises now). But I do regret not having participated in that cultural and religious transition into adulthood, affirming the interconnectedness of my Latina and Catholic identities.
Learning more about quinceañera
For more information on quinceañera, visit the Web sites of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and “Learn NC Editions” of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
What rites of passage have you experienced or witnessed for women? Do you think such rites are important? Why? Share your thoughts by clicking on Contact Us.

posted Friday, July, 17, 2009
Series Titles
(available Spring 2009)
(available Spring 2009)
Weaving Faith and Experience: A Woman's Perspective on the Middle Years
by Patricia Cooney Hathaway
(available Spring 2010)
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