Quinceañera

 At St. Anthony of Padua, the requirements for a quinceañera are as follows:

1.  Schedule a meeting with the priest to confirm requirements and date.
2.  Schedule a meeting with the Pastoral Associate to finish details.
3.  Attend Youth Group and be active in the parish.

 From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

Among several Spanish-speaking countries and among many Hispanics in the United States there is the custom of celebrating the passage from childhood to adolescence with a ritual that expresses thanksgiving to God for the gift of life and that asks for a blessing from God for the years ahead. This celebration may take place within Mass or outside of Mass. Commonly asked questions about the Blessing on the Fifteenth Birthday (Quinceañera) are answered here.

1.  What is a quinceañera?

The quinceañera is a traditional celebration of life and gratitude to God on the occasion of the fifteenth birthday of a young Hispanic woman. The ritual emphasizes her passage from childhood to adulthood. The family usually requests a Mass or a blessing to be held in the Church. The rite is frequently celebrated in several countries in the Americas, including Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean. It is frequently requested by Hispanic Catholics in the dioceses of the United States of America.

2.  What is the origin of the quinceañera?

The tribes of Meso-America, possibly the Mayas and Toltecs, celebrated elaborate rites of passage for their young men and women. Rites of passage are known to have existed in the Iberian Peninsula as well. The Spanish conquistadores may have brought the practice to Meso-America. It is possible that the missionaries would have approved of this practice, since these rites closely paralleled Christian practices of initiation and marriage. The ancient Mozarabic Rite of the Iberian peninsula had elaborate rituals marking the passage of baptized adolescents, each of which included specific references to Christian initiation and each of which was celebrated following the reception of Holy Communion at Mass. With the suppression of the Mozarabic Rite, many of these rituals passed into popular religious practice.

 

8.  Why do parents present their daughter for this celebration?

The parents, in coming to the parish Church seeking the blessing, acknowledge that their daughter has reached the age where she is capable of handling additional responsibility. They see the quince años Mass as a way to thank God for the blessing of their daughter’s life and to seek God’s blessing and guidance as she enters adulthood. The extended family, (grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles and cousins) is usually present, to celebrate with the quinceañera. Esponsores, other couples acting as sponsors, may bring forward the blessed religious articles which are presented to the quinceañera.

9.  What is the positive value of this celebration for the parish?

The Virgin Mary is a model for women of every class and age group. In a culture where machismo is still evident, the choice by a young Hispanic woman to celebrate her fifteenth birthday in the Church offers a host of possibilities for her and the parish. If the young women are received with understanding and a willingness to meet their needs, the celebration of the quinceañera can be a “teachable moment” for the parish.

 

11.  Why is this celebration necessary when the Church has the sacrament of Confirmation?

The Sacrament of Confirmation is one of the three sacraments of initiation by which the baptized "are more perfectly bound to the Church… and the Holy Spirit endows them with special strength so that they are more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith, both by word and by deed, as true witnesses of Christ."1 The celebration of the quince años complements the Sacrament by providing a special blessing for a young Catholic woman as she enters adulthood, preparing her for her new responsibilities.

Today’s teenagers live in a culture which urges them to embrace "the facile myths of success and power,"2 in direct contrast to the Catholic values espoused by their parents. At the time of the celebration of the blessing of the quinceañera, a young woman comes to the Church seeking a blessing. Standing before the altar, she is publicly presented by her family and friends in a gesture of thanksgiving.

 

14.  Why is the rite just for girls?

According to traditional usage, the Bendición de la Quinceañera has been a celebration for young Hispanic women. This is the practice in the countries of origin of the young women requesting the blessing. Recently, in the Western and Southwestern parts of the United States a limited number of young Hispanic males have requested this blessing for themselves or, in one case, twins (male and female), requested a joint celebration. There is no basis in the traditional usage, however, for the inclusion of young men in the rite.

The celebration also can be a strengthening of the identity of the quinceañera within her family and as a Catholic, as well as an affirmation of the gift of women as a blessing to the Church. In the Hispanic community, traditionally it has been the women who hand on the faith. The abuelita (grandmother) holds a special place in the family for that reason. Women organize feast days, celebrate rituals and offer prayers. The mother sets up the altarcito in the home where prayers are offered for the living and the dead. She makes the home a domestic church. Hispanic women are the evangelizers and teachers of values, yet their leadership has often gone unrecognized. The Quince Años Blessing publicly acknowledges this historic role.