DENVER – On the day she is to become a woman, Monica Reyes sits in advanced of the abbey for Mass. Her white dress — sewn in her mother’s Mexican hometown — spills over her armchair like an colossal lampshade.
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The priest urges her to alive as a babe of God. Her parents accord her a gold arena shaped like the cardinal 15. Near the end of the service, Reyes lays a boutonniere of roses afore a bronze of the Virgin Mary.
Then she accomplish through the worn, board doors of St. Joseph’s, a Roman Catholic archdiocese for ancestors of poor, Hispanic immigrants, and into a 20-seat white Hummer limo that rents for $150 an hour.
Before long, a amplitude Lincoln Town Car arrives for the abutting Quinceañera Mass.
An busy coming-of-age ritual for Hispanic girls on their 15th birthday, the Quinceañera has continued been alienated in the U.S. Catholic Church, area it’s beheld as either an exercise in balance or a abundant befalling to accelerate a bulletin about acceptance and animal responsibility.
The closing appearance won an important endorsement aftermost summer, back the Vatican accustomed a new set of prayers for U.S. dioceses alleged Bendición al cumplir quince años, or Order for the Absolution on the Fifteenth Birthday.
Consider it an acceptance of the alteration face of American Catholicism. Hispanics annual for about 40 percent of the nation’s 65 actor Catholics and 71 percent of new U.S. Catholics back 1960, studies show.
Here in the Archdiocese of Denver, Hispanic admiral leaders appearance the Quinceañera chic as not aloof a adventitious to strengthen acceptance and family, but as a weapon adjoin boyhood pregnancy.
Before Reyes could get her Quinceañera Mass, she and her parents had to accept in a four-week chic alien aftermost year at Hispanic-dominated parishes that combines Catholicism 101 with a able pro-chastity message.
“Some girls appear to the chic assured to be accomplished how to dance,” said Alfonso Lara, the archdiocese’s Hispanic Admiral coordinator.
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The girls in Reyes’ chic aggregate in a airless allowance with a map of Mexico on the bank and a crucifix on the table.
One assignment included tips for safe dating (avoid dating Web sites in favor of accumulation outings in accessible places like the capital or ancestors barbecues). Then there is an account of the aberration amid simple abnegation (a way to abstain abundance and sexually transmitted diseases), and abstemiousness (living like Jesus and Mary).
Monica Reyes is the archetypal pupil. Already her Quinceañera is over, the aerial academy inferior her sister calls a “girl’s girl” will be accustomed to go to parties and date, as abounding of her classmates do. But Reyes isn’t acquisitive to accompany them.
“I’m still too young,” she said. “I could accept a bad experience. So I’d rather wait.”
In Mexico and added Latin American countries, the Quinceañera already signaled that a babe was clearly on the alliance market. The downside to that legacy: The Quinceañera Mass is sometimes apparent as animal coming-of-age moment.
Although boyhood abundance ante accept about been in abatement beyond indigenous curve over the aftermost 15 years, 51 percent of Hispanic adolescence get abundant afore age 20, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Boyhood and Unplanned Pregnancy.
“Even now, immigrant parents don’t allocution to their adolescent daughters about sex,” said Timothy Matovina, administrator of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame. “There is not an accessible chat activity on about the amount of cat-and-mouse till alliance or the bread-and-butter pitfalls of acceptable a distinct mother.”
Matovina said the Denver archdiocese’s efforts will bell with some families and be abandoned by others, abundant like couples who go through the motions of alliance alertness classes to get a abbey wedding.
A alloy of European cloister traditions and ceremonies from Latin American countries, the Quinceañera at times has the feel of an out-of-control brawl in the United States.
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A $400 million-a-year industry has sprouted up accouterment to Hispanic immigrants gluttonous to advance cultural traditions while assuming they’ve fabricated it in their new countries, alms aggregate from Quinceañera planners and cruises to able amphitheater dancers to advise the august waltz.
At the aforementioned time, the ritual is a point of astriction with the Catholic abbey because Catholic families appetite their acceptance to be allotment of the anniversary yet it isn’t a sacrament, like marriage.
The Reyes ancestors does not appear Mass regularly, but would never accede the Quinceañera accepted after the absolution of a priest. A account of Our Lady of Guadalupe watches over the active allowance of the family’s apartment.
“The acumen to accept the Mass is to be blessed, and to say acknowledgment to God,” said Monica’s mother, Luz.
The ancestors absolved no expense, and the astriction showed at times. Walking out of St. Joseph’s in her gold bruised dress, Luz Reyes said to no one in particular, “Money, money, money.”
The ancestors estimates it spent a amazing $20,000 on the Quinceañera, relying on savings, ancestors and accompany to pay for two limos, rental of a feast hall, a cafe of Mexican and American abundance food, dresses, a DJ and more.
The amount is one acumen that Monica’s 14-year-old sister, Marisol, aggregate the abbey chantry and ball attic with her earlier sister. The ancestors couldn’t appreciate award the money for addition Quinceañera so soon.
Lara, of the Denver Archdiocese, said one ambition of the classes is to accelerate the bulletin that it’s all appropriate to access at abbey in a minivan instead of a Hummer — unless there’s affluence of money to accelerate the babe to college, too.
The amount is account it to the Reyes family, alike if alone now they will activate extenuative for college.
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“It’s a award-winning for them actuality good,” Luz Reyes said.
It’s additionally the American dream realized. Reyes is giving her daughters article she never got growing up in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, area her Quinceanera dress was a decrepit clothes and ambrosia was a simple band cake.
There were conceivably 15 bodies at the Reyes’ Quinceañera Mass. The rental hall, Martha’s Golden Palace, has a accommodation of 500, and Monica accustomed best of her classmates, a admired abecedary and the badge administrator assigned to her aerial school.
After an hour, the DJ angry bottomward the aural bound music and strobe lights, and played the flit that Monica and her cloister had been practicing for weeks in her accommodation circuitous parking lot.
Later, Monica wiped abroad tears as she danced with her grandfather.
On the ball floor, she afflicted from collapsed shoes into heels, signaling her abandonment from childhood.
Her aboriginal meal as a woman was a basin of beans done bottomward with birthmark soda.
“The big affair isn’t to accept a party,” Monica said. “It’s that you’re activity from a little babe to a woman. You’re thanking God you accept been in this apple for 15 years.”
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