Traditional devotion to Mary

Chamorro-sponsored event brings Guamanian flavor to Lacey parish

 carrying in banners
Banners with the names of villages on Guam and their patron saints are carried by children from the Chamorro community at Sacred Heart Parish. Photo: Bob Maanao. View more May crowning photos from around the archdiocese.

 

LACEY
By Kim Haub

A Chamorro-style crowning of Santa Marian Kamalen, followed by a fiesta with roasted pig, brought some traditions from the island of Guam to Sacred Heart Parish in Lacey.

For 12 years, the Chamorro community at Sacred Heart has hosted the celebration of Guam’s patron saint, Our Lady of Camarin, to share its culture with the parish. “Those of us who are away from our island home try to incorporate the same traditions that we grew up with,” said organizer Lou Maanao. She was born and raised in Sinajana, a village on Guam, a U.S. territory in the western Pacific Ocean.

One Chamorro tradition is praying a novena to ask Mary’s intercession for themselves and their families on Guam. The novena always ends the day before the May crowning.

This year, the May 3 crowning event began with recitation of the rosary in the church, followed by a traditional procession before Mass. Because of rain, the procession was moved inside, Maanao said.

During the procession, youth from the Chamorro community carried patron saint banners representing various villages on Guam. An entourage of 10 “angels” — little girls in white dresses — carried flowers and escorted the statue of Santa Marian Kamalen to the altar. The statue, a replica of the original one in Guam’s cathedral-basilica, was placed on a float and carried up the church aisle by a group of men.

During Mass, just before the preparation of the gifts, the statue was crowned by Hope Mesngon, a Chamorro teen whose family has been in the parish for several years but will be moving soon.

The church was packed and “we were bursting at the seams” for the fiesta afterward in the parish hall, where 550 people enjoyed traditional Guamanian dishes, Maanao said. As part of the celebration, organizers asked attendees to bring food and toiletries for the parish’s emergency outreach fund. “We wanted to help our neighbors in need,” she said.

The celebration was a lot of work to pull off, but “the laughter and camaraderie among everyone involved in the behind-the-scenes preparation and cleanup afterwards make me feel like I’m back home,” Maanao said.

 

crowning Mary statue
Banners with the names of villages on Guam and their patron saints are carried by children from the Chamorro community at Sacred Heart Parish. Photo: Bob Maanao. View more May crowning photos from around the archdiocese.

 

 

More about Santa Marian Kamalen

The original statue of Santa Marian Kamalen is kept in the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Guam’s capital city, Agana. Its origin is unclear.

Oral history says the statue was found in the ocean by a Chamorro fisherman, although another theory is that the statue was brought to Guam in the 1600s by the Spanish Jesuit missionary, Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores, who founded the first Catholic church on the island.

Read more about Santa Marian Kamalen at www.aganacathedral.org/history/santa-marian-kamalen.

May crownings from around the archdiocese

See more photos of parish and school May crownings throughout the Archdiocese of Seattle on Northwest Catholic's Facebook page.

 

May 7, 2014