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For 40 years, each Advent season, Sister Angelina Gonzales shepherded Mary and Joseph; accompanying them in their search for shelter before the birth of their child.

Sister Angelina led the 9-day novena of scripture called Las Posadas, meaning “inns”. It is a remembrance of the Christmas story as told in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2:1-14).

Sister Angelina describes the happening: Men, women, and children at Holy Cross Parish in Santa Cruz, New Mexico gather each night for nine consecutive nights. A couple dressed as Mary and Joseph, accompanied by parishioners approach a home or chapel petitioning those who reside within. As a group, those outside call out asking for mercy and shelter. Those inside respond that there is no room. They go back and forth in Spanish for several verses until finally the young couple and those who accompany them are invited to enter. As one, those who have gathered begin the novena with a scripture reading and songs and prayers to the Infant Jesus and to the faithful, concluding with the song “Vamos Todos A Belen”, which means, “Let us go to Bethlehem”.

“This is a very spiritual tradition that warms the heart with love and expectation as we await the arrival of the Child who will be called Jesus,” says Sr. Angelina. And after the last song, the musicians continue singing Christmas carols. And all are invited to a meal for traditional foods.

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