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Mexican society to mark 90th year

Guadalupana Society of Madera will celebrate its 90th anniversary Oct. 28 at Holy Spouses Hall at St. Joachim School. Tribute will be given to past officers and members of the society.

There will be dinner, dance, and coronation of the society’s queen. Tickets are $30 pre-sale and $35 at the door. For tickets, call Leti at 647-5201.

The public is invited to join the society for the celebration, especially if those in one’s family were past members. According to Mary Zaragoza, some of the past members’ family surnames were Valdivia, Bosquez, Marques, Sanchez, Perez, Gonzales, Marmolejo, Beltran, Castro, Santiago, Garibay and others. The Valdivia and the Marmolejo families were some of the group’s founders back in 1927, long before the Fresno Diocese formed in 1967, separating from the Monterey Diocese.

To prepare for the upcoming anniversary, the Mexican-American association at St. Joachim Church shares its history through the eyes of a local pillar of the organization, Mary Zaragoza.

In the 1960s, Zaragoza joined the Guadalupana Society, which her mother, Victoria Valdivia, also belonged. Around the age of 35, she was the youngest lady in the society, according to society member Gloria Medina. Now she is one of the oldest. She has volunteered as a secretary, sub-secretary, sub treasurer, president and vice president, and is still the sub-secretary today. She attributes her loyalty to the society to her devotion to the mother of Jesus, Mary, whom she considers her mother too.

Her Christian faith supported her in difficulties of life. Her husband Jessie became ill but last until the age of 81, when he died. Her firstborn, Octabio, died at age 11. Her daughter, Mary Ann, died in 2016 at the age of 57. A grandson would be born weighing only 2 ounces. With prayer to Jesus, he survived and has strong lungs, according to Zaragoza. Now at the age of 22 he is going to become a Catholic priest.

The society in the past was a smaller group and most members were older. They raised funds by making tamales. On Mothers and Fathers days, the society served breakfast at Griffin Hall in Madera. They had outings, picnics, fundraisers such as dances, visited the sick, and sold fireworks each July. The men would cook and the women would be served since they volunteered all year. They all helped each other like a family. They had a queen coronation and she would serve two years and to this day that tradition and others are is still being done.

In the past, the society had Junior Guadalupanos, like an internship to become Guadalupanos. They had a good leader who instructed them and they learned to pray in the Catholic faith. The kids wanted to learn and not just have fun.

Zaragoza advises young people to pray with Mary to Jesus, pray everyday, confess one’s sins frequently, and think of the suffering Jesus went through to save humanity out of love for us.

The society prayed novenas for all families every year before Dec. 12, the anniversary of an alleged appearance in 1531 of the mother of Jesus to a Chichimeca farmer and weaver named Juan Diego around Mexico City. Society members processed from Griffin Hall, down Yosemite Avenue, to St. Joachim Church. The tradition Zaragoza loved best was the singing of a song that speaks about the brown-skinned virgin Mary of Guadalupe and “humble” Juan Diego.

“The virgin appeared to him in 1531 and there was a miracle in which her image was left to the church and is still enshrined for venerating in Mexico City,” said Gloria Medina. “She is described in the book of Revelations in the Bible with the child Jesus.”

What Zaragoza would like to see again is for different parishes to get together, pray novenas together and learn together. For different members from different towns come together for spiritual learning, praying and singing like they did before. Different groups will learn interesting things when they get together with each other.

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