Parishioners keep tradition alive with Pastorela
Friday, Nov. 29, 2019
MIDVALE — As part of their Christmas celebrations, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus parishioners have been preparing for the presentation of the Pastorela.
La Pastorela is a Mexican tradition of recreating the Biblical passage where the shepherds follow the Star of Bethlehem to find the Christ Child. To reach the birthplace of the Savior, the shepherds experience a series of changes of fortune and also confront the devil, who will do the impossible to prevent them from completing their journey.
Usually in this play, the Archangel Michael intervenes to defend the shepherds.
The play can be presented as a historical representation or with funny situations, but every version has the same message: God always overcomes evil.
“There is no Christmas season without a Pastorela,” said Marco Valdez, one of the event organizers.
The tradition of the Pastorela goes back to the 11th century. It has undergone multiple changes in content and performance methods.
Valdez said that some years ago he and other parishioners who wanted to present a Pastorela at the parish approached the pastor, Fr. Jose Barrera, for approval.
“The community in general was very interested in having it, and Fr. Barrera trusted us because we are the same team that every year presents the Via crucis (at Lent),” Valdez said.
After getting approval, the parishioners prepared a script for the Pastorela, found costumes, created stage settings, and acquired the necessary lighting.
The first Pastorela at St. Therese was based on a historical script, Valdez said, adding that the play went from the Old Testament to the birth of the Child Jesus.
This year the play will be based on a more contemporary script.
“We are including social media and how nowadays people interact with it,” Valdez said. With the Pastorela “we want people to realize how social media has absorbed our lives, we want people to be conscious about how social media takes away family time, church time, and the spiritual life is been put on hold. … We are trying to open eyes and at the same time to offer them a good time.”
The Pastorela is also a way to keep the Hispanic traditions alive.
“Keeping this tradition alive today more than ever is important because we want to teach our children our culture, where we come from. … We want to plant seeds of love, of attention, of where they come from so they won’t get lost with all the bombarding that we receive on a daily basis,” said Valdez, adding that people tend to put aside their cultural traditions, letting them be buried by paganism and consumerism.
“We are trying to make people conscious so they give way, they let loose of social media and start focusing on their families and on the spiritual life,” Valdez said.
The 2019 Pastorela will be presented at the parish on Saturday, Dec. 21 after the 6:30 Mass and the following day after the diocesan Posada.
“We wanted to present them in the evening so we can show off all the lights and all the scenes that have been prepared,” Valdez said.
The event is open to all and everyone is invited. It will be presented in Spanish.
WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 21 after the 6: 30 p.m. Mass and Dec. 22 after the 7 p.m. diocesan Posada
WHERE: St. Therese of the Child Jesus Catholic Church, 624 W. Lennox St., Midvale
Free and open to all