On the morning of December 12, the day laborers of Portland and Voz Workers’ Rights Education Project paid homage our Lady of Guadalupe, holding a mass in the MLK Jr. Worker Center and a procession around the perimeter of NE Martin Luther King and NE Davis. Around 55 people participated in the ceremony, including day laborers, their families, and other guests.
The procession was lead by a group of day laborers who carried a litter with the image of our Lady to the accompaniment of Pual Riek, Orgnaizer for Voz, and Francisco Aguirre, Coordinator of the Worker Center, who cheered the procession with their guitars and the songs of “La Guadalupana” and “Mañanitas a la Virgen.” Along the way, various neighbors and passersby observed the cultural event with curiosity and sympathy. The processional route ended at the Worker Center, where the ceremony took place.
During the mass, there was song and prayer in honor of the Virgin. The priest leading the mass, Raúl Márquez, called on those present to continue the tradition and pass it on to their children. “Only then” he said, “will our Lady of Guadalupe’s fame continue to spread across the world, and continue to bring together Portland’s Mexican community on a day like today.” The day laborers affirmed their loyalty to our Lady and their commitment to honor her every December 12. “We love her very much, as we were taught by our parents” said one of the day laborers, who has been working in Portland for 23 years. “We always ask that she grant work to day laborers, and to everyone else as well.”
At the end of the ceremony, those present enjoyed a breakfast of cake, cookies, hot chocolate, and coffee. Francisco Aguirre, the event’s organizer, Paul Riek, and Jesus Rivas (ex-member of Voz) provided musical accompaniment, playing popular songs in honor of our Lady “It is important for the day laborers to celebrate this day,” explained Francisco. “Because although they are far from their countries, they still aspire to maintain their traditions.” He added that, “This tradition is important enough to them that they momentarily stop thinking about work and dedicate time to the Virgin.” For day laborers who face the constant need to find work, to make a living far from home, this is a powerful act of love that demonstrates fealty to our Lady of Guadalupe on her day.