Celebration honors 75th anniversary, feast day of Immaculate Heart of Mary


How can one find the words, to express the gratitude to those nonagenarians who have created faith pathways for us to follow?

My mother taught me never to ask a woman’s age, but the 75th anniversary and the feast day celebration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church calls for breaking a few rules. 

It is without doubt, the families of two of our elder pioneers had to plan and coordinate significantly to have us honored with their presence. 

Lydia Martinez, who is 96, had her eldest daughter, Angie, and her husband, Dale, drove in from Farmington, N.M., to accompany her along with numerous members of the Martinez clan. 

Emma Lujan, who will soon be 95, had her daughters Gloria and Marcella, son Joe, and grandchildren accompany her. 

Both wore their Guadalupana medallions as both served in the Guadalupana Ministry of Bereavement as well as in the Altar Guild Society, which is appropriate as both ministries were singled out for sponsoring this 75th anniversary and feast day. 

The mission church of Santiago (St. James) in Trujillo was attended by both and both are lifelong residents of Archuleta County. 

Emily Mestas, who is 92, and her late husband, Frank, were the first couple married in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church. She too, was a Guadalupana and was accompanied by daughters Kathy and Trisha, son Frankie, as well as her grandchildren Emily and Carlos. 

San Juan (St. John) in Pagosa Junction was well represented by 91-year-old Bea Espinosa, who was also a Guadalupana and also a very active member in music ministry and had sung with earlier versions of the Rivas Family Spanish Choir. Her son Joseph and daughters Darlene and Carrie, as well as her grandchildren, attended Bea. 

Frances (St. Francis) was represented by Florian Gallegos and son Paul and daughter Marie. 

Carol Pacheco, the eldest of the Archuleta sisters and soon to be 90, was undeniable in her support of this event. First, she made 31 burritos, then she made what was arguably the best roaster of menudo, then she added another 15 burritos. All the elderly were asked to remain in the church during the procession because of the heat. But not Pacheco. She was the oldest to join the procession and provided Guiseppe Margiotta and Julie Gurule the opportunity to accompany her and provide her water as she completed the procession. The devotion, dedication and commitment represented by these nonagenarians is inspirational to all.

These memorable events do not happen without many working together. Father Samuel Auta set the stage three years ago by having us focus not only on the feast day, but making sure we were inclusive not only of the pioneers, but all our friends and neighbors. Las Guadalupanas provided the feast meal, and all spectators and visitors were invited to join in the celebration.

As usual the food was fantastic, but the fellowship and service were even better. The music ministry was provided by the Rivas Family Spanish Choir, who provided the music for the procession. Then, as we have become accustomed, those that sing, pray twice and they sang the Mass in Spanish and English. Then, they became one of our regional favorites: Variety Express.

Variety Express played a wide variety of favorites to the delight of all who enjoyed a street dance on Lewis Street as the street was closed for the day.