San Diego, CA: Portuguese Festa do Espirito Santo

Final Cover Photo

On this year’s feast of Pentecost, we attended a 700 year old tradition that is celebrated throughout Portugal, and the Portuguese diaspora – Festa do Espirito Santo.

As a small child, I remember going to Festa with my Portuguese grandmother in Arcata, California. After morning Mass, a beautiful but simple parade of statues and young girls dressed in what I suspect were their first communion and confirmation dresses traveled to the community hall. There we had a meal of sopas, and my grandmother told me the story of Queen Saint Isabel. Then I was gleefully spun around the dance floor by the sweetest Portuguese grandfathers who were enlivened by the music of their homeland. To me it was the epitome of celebrating our rich Catholic faith, and being part of a close-knit community.

I also attended many Festas in my hometown of San Diego, where the Portuguese community is significantly larger, and significantly more wealthy. Here the legacy of Queen Saint Isabel is able to feed hundreds of people, the devotion to the Holy Spirit is clearly displayed, and our beautiful faith is literally put on parade! This year would be my children’s first Festa!

Come Holy Spirit and inspire us as we attend Festa do Espirito Santo. Help us to recognize the faith and beauty that unifies this community. Inspire us to be a servant of God to all, especially the poor, as Queen Saint Isabel was. And help us to not be ashamed of our faith, but be willing to let others come and see it as we live it out each day. Amen.

Keep reading

Mission San Juan Capistrano, CA: Saint Joseph’s Day and the Return of the Swallows Celebration

MSJC 2015 Title Photo

On the solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19th, we went on a little pilgrimage to Mission San Juan Capistrano, via rail. Of course our children loved that we went by train. We began our journey in prayer…

O Lord, please bless us on this day of pilgrimage. Open our hearts to experience the beauty of Your creation, and the heritage of your Church. Grant us the grace to deepen our faith, bond as a family, and be inspired by others who have brought you glory. Amen.

And because it was the solemnity of St. Joseph, we prayed the St. Joseph novena en route as well.


Mission San Juan Capistrano is a short walk from the train station, and it was a fairly easy journey with our three little ones, under age 5 (thanks to a stroller and a couple of baby carriers of course). And we were not alone visiting the Mission on this day because March 19th is a celebration of an event that made the Mission world-renowned, all thanks to the generous heart of a single priest.

keep reading