Ysleta Mission History and Festival + Video
As some of you might know, my grandma was a very proud Guadalupana (female group devoted to the Virgen de Guadalupe).
She would volunteer at our neighborhood catholic church, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel every chance she had.
Every year there was an annual kermes (church bazaar), now called the Ysleta Mission Festival complete with food, music and fun. It is the main fundraiser for the church and has grown throughout the years.
When I was a little girl, I used to walk to the church with my grandma and she would go inside the church kitchen and make gorditas for hours. Gorditas are corn masa pockets that are traditionally filled with picadillo. They were always the hit of the festival.
I would peek in the kitchen to check in on her and she always had a sweet smile on her face as she molded patties of masa to make gorditas. She loved being in the kitchen volunteering with all the Guadalupanas.
While she was busy in the kitchen, I would enjoy the festival and join in on the cakewalk or I would venture outside and play carnival games. It was a sweet little festival that I used to look forward to every year.
I would meet up with neighborhood friends and family and we would eat all of our favorite festival treats. My favorites were always grilled corn and funnel cakes.
When it started to get dark, I remember looking forward to seeing the Matachines, a religious dance group that dates back to Spanish colonialism in Mexico.
In the distance, I would hear them dancing and I would run to watch them – I was mesmerized by their colorful feathers and costumes, and hypnotized by the sound of the rattles, bells, and drums.
A Matachin is a person who expresses through his body his gratefulness to God and the Virgen de Guadalupe. The dance of the Matachin is a very important dance amongst the El Paso community – it is heritage, tradition, and devotion.
As the sun would go down the long lines began to form at the gorditas booth. The long lines were a testament to their popularity. Everyone knew they were worth the wait — they continue to be an El Paso tradition.
My grandma was a Guadaluapana for many years and made gorditas up until the age of 90. My grandma passed away at 98 years old and treasured the life-long friendships she made in the church.
A few years after my mom retired she took the promise to follow in my grandmas’ footsteps and also became a Guadalupana. She has now been a Guadualpana for five years.
I hope you enjoy this video with Father Miguel sharing the history of the Ysleta Mission.My mom also shares her sweet memories of the festival and shares why she volunteers. The video is filled with old family photos as well as footage of my late grandma, which makes this video beyond special.
Ever since my mom became a Guadalupana, I knew I wanted to capture her story and the story of my grandma as church volunteers as well as the history of the Ysleta Mission and the festival. The Ysleta Mission is the oldest continuously active parish in the state of Texas.
I want to thank Chris (Pure Cinematography) for making the trip to El Paso and filming this very special project! Special thanks to Zane Chaffee for sound, Cristina Navarro for photography, my sisters Gracie and Kat for weathering the heat and helping behind the scenes, and to my son Blake who was a little super star assistant.
Gracias to Father Miguel for sharing so much of the history of the mission, a big abrazo to my mama for sharing why she volunteers just like grandma, and thank you to the Tigua dancers and community of El Paso, and to everyone who helped make this video possible!
Gracias El Paso, te amo.
5 Comments on “Ysleta Mission History and Festival + Video”
Beautiful beautiful videos mija, you are super great for coming from Denver to do this, thank you for not forgetting your roots. Am so proud of you, love you so very much.
I woke up this morning and found this article, sharing at 6am. I am so proud!! This is my community and my church!! Our community is over 300 hundred years old and continues to be rich in tradition. Thank you for the video, it was beautifully done. <3
Yvette this is so beautiful. So wonderful to share the beauty in the world also! Thank you
Thank you so much for letting me relive a very happy time in my life. Many years ago, my husband was stationed at Fort Bliss. While there, we had the great pleasure to visit the Ysleta mission many times. I will never forget how beautiful it was there. The people were wonderful to us and made us feel welcome and like we were a part of the community. Of all the places we were stationed throughout his career, I loved the El Paso area the most.
I must say how heartbroken I was when I recently saw the utter and senseless hatred that happened to the wonderful people of the area. There is no sense in hating anyone when all you have to do is get to know them and learn from them. People would be surprised to learn how great it is to meet people from different parts of the world. There should be no room in any of our hearts and minds for hatred. It is so senseless and it makes me feel great sorrow.
I am a native Texan, and I live in Fort Worth, and seeing your beautiful presentation of the Ysleta mission and festival brought back so many wonderful memories. Thank you again for this and I do so enjoy reading your newsletter.
Mija you and everybody involved did a super great job, the videos are beautiful. I know you had been wanting to do this for such a long time. This video will be cherished by so many El Pasoans and Ysletans, the stories are beautiful. Thank you mija for your hard work, I’ll forever be so grateful that you did this. Love you so much, mi reina.