From Oct. 29 until Nov. 6, UP’s Campus Ministry will have an altar in the Chapel of Christ the Teacher in celebration of All Souls’ Day and Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, in commemoration of loved ones who have passed away in the UP community.
The tradition of Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, originated in Aztec rituals and over time merged with the Catholic tradition of All Souls’ Day. It is typically celebrated Nov. 1 and 2.
Br. Pablo Quan Lopez, CSC, who is new to The Bluff this year, reached out to the UP community asking for photos of deceased loved ones to be placed on the altar and received fifteen submissions. The project is personal for him, as it was celebrated in his culture growing up, and he has continued celebrating for most of his life.
“I am originally from Guatemala,” Lopez said. “Day of the Dead was a big part of our traditions growing up, and even while I was in college or in other places, my friends and I have always tried to have some altar or ofrenda put together wherever we are. One of the things I am focusing on in the Campus Ministry department is reaching out to different cultures and minority groups so that we can celebrate our shared Catholic faith and all the rich traditions and cultures that are involved with it.”
Day of the Dead is celebrated differently in various cultures and by many people who are not Catholic. Though Day of the Dead is connected to the Catholic tradition, it is separate from All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day, which are specifically Catholic traditions focused on praying for the souls of the dead.
“Day of the Dead weaves into the month of November being generally a time of remembering the dead in the Catholic tradition,” Fr. Jim Gallagher said. “Even if people didn’t send in photos for the altar, we will have a basket at our All Souls’ Day mass that people can write names in to be prayed for. As those names come in throughout the month, we will have a basket in front of the altar for people to say prayers for those who have died.”
Because these traditions are very close to the Latinx community, Fr. Gallagher and others are being intentional with connecting the culture to the Catholic tradition throughout the course of this month.
“As a Catholic University, we know that this tradition means a lot for people from the Latinx community, and so we want to take that cultural expression and relate it to this time of remembering and praying for the souls of the dead,” Gallagher said.
The altar will remain in the Chapel of Christ the Teacher throughout the week up until November 6. There will be a streamed Mass on All Souls Day, Nov 2. at 5 p.m. that can be found on the Campus Ministry’s YouTube page.
Ajay Davis is a reporter for The Beacon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.