Days at San Miguel Tulsa Middle School can be long, but that goes without saying because the San Miguel system utilizes the extended school day in order to better educate our students. From 8:15-4:30 our students are in the classroom working hard to be “San Miguel Scholars” and our teachers work even longer. Working this hard is a vocation, a passion, and something we would not dare change. This feeling comes from our love of our students, their families, the community, and Latino culture.
The longest day of the year occurs towards the end of the first semester. San Miguel, along with Saint Francis Catholic Church and the rest of the community, organizes and executes the evening celebration of Las Posadas on December 19th. In Latin culture Las Posadas is a nine-day celebration of the coming of Jesus Christ’s birth. The nine-day celebration represents the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy.
Before coming to Tulsa I had never heard of the Las Posadas celebration, now I was a part of the team tasked to plan the Church’s evening celebration of it on December 19th. After weeks of planning, it was time for the big evening. After school the teachers, families, and community members began to set tables, decorations, and cook the food (the most important part in my opinion).
The evening began a 7:00 pm Mass said in Spanish, which was a very different experience for me. After the Mass, everyone received a candle inside a paper lampshade. Then, the entire congregation began to walk from door to door (being turned down repeatedly) to symbolize Joseph and Mary’s journey to find a room to give birth to baby Jesus. Finally, the congregation reached the final door, the church’s activity center, and began to sing. It is at this time we are allowed to enter and celebrate the birth of Jesus.
The night continued in the activity center with food and music. It was a joyous night full of celebration, family, and the worship of God. Having the opportunity to connect with my students and their family on a spiritual level is something that I have cherished ever sense. Forming these types of relationships with others is one of the reasons I decided to become a Lasallian Volunteer, and it may be the greatest benefit of all because even though my day did not end until eleven at night, the night ended far too soon.
Evan Saunders is a 1st year LV serving at San Miguel in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is a 2013 graduate of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.