SALT LAKE CITY — Looking at the religious goods in Utah years ago, Josefina Flores-Larios realized that almost none of the religious education material was bilingual or available in Spanish.
Her mind started formulating ideas on how to make those materials available for the Catholics who were either bilingual or spoke only Spanish.
“I became very interested because many of the families in my parish (St. Therese of the Child Jesus) just speak Spanish or are bilingual, and we were always talking about the need for religious material,” she said.
As a result of those conversations and her brainstorming, two years ago Flores-Larios opened Casa Jalisco Religious Goods. The business offers not only bilingual and Spanish religious education material but also nativities, religious images and souvenirs for rites such as First Communion, Baptism, quinceañeras and weddings.
“We are trying to cover all the needs that we can,” Flores-Larios said.
All the goods that Casa Jalisco offers are brought directly from Guadalajara, Mexico.
“Little by little people have started to ask for some specific religious images or items, so two to three times a year I go directly to Mexico to get them,” said Flores-Larios.
Finding a specific image or item is important, she said, because each piece has a special meaning for the person who makes the order.
“They are part of what we have learned in our countries when we were kids; it’s like having a living memory,” she said.
For example, in this season Casa Jalisco offers dozens of items to include in nativity sets.
“Hispanics like to go big with their nativities. Images such as the traditional ones are always present in their nativities but they go far beyond that,” said Flores-Larios, referring to the fact that Casa Jalisco offers items such as fish, different shepherds, animals, trees, special grass, stars and ponds, among a great variety of elements that are usually found in Latin American nativities.
“For the Hispanic community, especially immigrants, the nativities offer an opportunity for adults and children to better understand their native countries and traditions, and to keep the memories alive,” Flores-Larios said.
Casa Jalisco also offers a variety of religious images, such as Our Blessed Mother in her different representations, including Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of Aparecida.
“To have a religious image is not to venerate the image itself, it is to honor its significance, what it means, what it reminds you, all the memories that it has,” Flores-Larios said.
For example, an image of the Virgin Mary reminds people of the Blessed Mother giving the world her son, Jesus, and “a crucifix reminds us of Jesus suffering to save us; that’s why we carry Christ on a cross or we have the Virgin in our homes,” she added.
If a certain image is not available at Casa Jalisco, Flores-Larios can take custom orders.
Casa Jalisco operates at 1500 West 3500 South, Ste 12, West Valley City. On the weekends, goods from the shop are available after the Masses at St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parish. Flores-Larios also takes phone orders at 801-558-7015.