The Catholic Church has always been an important Latino social institution. As the Latino population has grown and settled, the Church has taken on a bigger role in the community. At St. Christopher Catholic Church, in north Las Vegas, the reenactment of the story of the Virgin of Guadalupe is just one of dozens of events celebrated in Catholic churches across the Las Vegas Valley. This event honors the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico’s patron saint. Mexican children are told the story of the Virgin at a very young age.
As the Mexican population in Nevada grows, so do the events on Our Lady of Guadalupe’s feast day. The faith of Mexican worshipers is so intense that they attend the celebrations regardless of their work schedules or economic status. Beginning with a midnight vigil that lasts five hours, four services are held throughout the day, each of which fills the church to capacity. Churchgoers remain after mass and spend the afternoon at fiestas in the church’s courtyard, eating carne asada, tacos, and tamales, and listening to Mexican music played by a disc jockey.