The origin of Quinceañera celebrations is not certain but many believe that the custom started from the Mayan and Toltec fertility rites in which fathers presented their marriageable daughters to the tribe. Young women were a vital force in the community because of their ability to give warriors to the tribe. The ceremony emphasized the commitment and responsibility of women to their community.
The custom has evolved to the present day into a birthday celebration within a religious context. The celebrant’s parents, relatives, and friends ask God to pour His blessings and protection upon her. They present her to society in her transition from childhood to womanhood. As such, the young lady is now expected to accept some of the responsibilities of an adult in society and church through a renewal of her commitment to God.
As a religious celebration, the Quinceañera is an occasion for the celebrant to give thanks to God for her gift of life and to express her commitment to respond to the responsibilities accorded to her by the Lord and the Christian community. It is also an opportunity to pay homage to the young lady’s parents who through God’s intervention have brought her into the world. Therefore, the Quinceañera is a traditional celebration of thanksgiving. The celebration is not a sacrament; it is a mass of Thanksgiving for life and faith, crowned by God’s blessings.
REQUIREMENTS AND PREPARATION
The Parish community of the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church welcomes the holding of a religious ceremony as part of the young girl’s 15th (or 16th) birthday celebration. It is a time for the young lady to realize her adult responsibilities to her faith, family, and community.
The following guidelines are issued to ensure a wonderful and unforgettable celebration:
- The family of the Quinceañera must be registered and active parishioners of Holy Redeemer Catholic Church.
- The young lady wishing to celebrate a Quinceañera is expected to attend Sunday Mass and is expected to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation as part of their preparation. Reconciliation Schedule at Holy Redeemer are Saturday: 3:00 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. and 6:00pm to 6:45p.m.
- As a general rule, the quinceañera wishing to celebrate her Mass at Holy Redeemer must be baptized and have already received the sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation (a confirmation certificate must be presented before the Mass will be celebrated or proof of attendance in sacramental preparation).
- The young lady must be actively involved in activities at Holy Redeemer for a minimum of a year before the proposed Quinceañera mass celebration. Activities can include assisting in youth ministry, altar serving, etc.
- In preparation of her Quinceañera, the young lady will be asked to: Write a 300-word essay explaining why she wants a Quinceañera celebration directed to our pastor.
- The essay should begin first by discussing the issue of faith in your life. Why is having faith important for you? Who passed on the faith to you? Are you currently active in your faith? What do you do to remain connected to your faith? Do you attend adoration regularly? Do you utilize your sacraments on a regular basis? Secondly, the essay should more specifically touch on why you wish to have a Quinceañera celebration. How will this special celebration help you continue to grow in your faith? How will you continue to fulfill God’s promise and commitment as you enter into adulthood? What is the significance in having this special event in your life?
SCHEDULING A QUINCEAÑERA MASS
Scheduling a Quinceañera Mass begins with submitting the registration form, required documents and deposit. We strongly encourage the reservation of the date for a Quinceañera celebration to be made at least 1 year in advance. Reservation for the date will only be made upon completion of all the requirements. Priests are assigned to preside at Quinceañera masses according to their availability. The Mass of Thanksgiving for quince años are scheduled for Saturdays at 12 p.m.
Importance of Beginning at the Scheduled Starting Time:
Because our church calendar is often packed with back-to-back services, it is imperative that the quinceañera and her attendants be at the church 30 minutes before the scheduled starting time and be ready to begin precisely at the scheduled starting time. If any essential participants in the Mass service are late and the starting time has to be delayed, the presiding priest may, in his sole discretion, delete different parts of the Thanksgiving Mass so as to complete the mass on time.
It is fitting that the celebration of the Quinceañera begins with the Eucharistic Liturgy in which the parents first present their daughter in the church as an act of thanksgiving and in which the daughter renews her commitment to live the Christian life as she begins adulthood. It is also fitting that this liturgy have a certain solemnity; however, over the years certain practices have attached themselves to the celebration in the church, destroying much of the religious value and giving too much importance to the externals. Extravagance, competition, and trying to impress others by spending a lot of money or values not compatible with the simplicity of life encouraged in the message of Jesus. The emphasis should be on the young lady and her family giving thanks to God for her desire to take a more responsible role both in society and the church. Therefore, in order to ensure that the religious ceremony of a Quinceañera is truly festive and free of external extravagances, the following guidelines are to be employed:
- Church Decoration: The Church is a consecrated house of God and should be treated with respect and dignity, most especially the altar since it is the symbol of Christ Himself. Nothing may be placed on the altar, except the bread, the wine, and the book necessary for the celebration of the Eucharist. To prevent damages to the pews, nothing must be attached to them: tape, sticky tacks, glue or even paper clips. Food, gum, and drinks of any kind are not to be brought inside the Church. Alcohol and tobacco is absolutely prohibited at any time on or near Parish property by those participating in and those connected with the Quinceañera ceremony. Throwing rice, bird seeds, bubbles, flower petals (fake or real) etc. creates safety hazard and are not allowed.
- Dress Code: Since the celebration of liturgies are done in God’s house, everyone is expected to dress modestly.
- Liturgical Texts: All readings and prayers for the ceremony must be taken from approved liturgical books. The Quinceañera is encouraged to participate in the liturgy by reading the first reading. A family member or friend may be selected by the young lady to read the Prayer of the Faithful. The Gospel is read by the priest or deacon. Be sure to make a copy for the readers and give it to them one week before the Quinceañera mass so they can practice the readings, speaking clearly and loudly. Please click HERE to see the readings.
- Flowers: If the choice is to have flowers as decoration, nothing should be placed on the altar itself. The family of the Quinceañera has to take care of providing flowers for the event. Sometimes a quinceañera’s family desire to donate the flowers to the church, this is laudable and appreciated. The church coordinator will receive such donations of flowers and place them appropriately according to the existing decorations in the church and the particular season.
- Photographer/ Videographer: Taking pictures/video of the event is allowed, provided this does not become a distraction to the ceremony. Photographers and videographers are not allowed in the altar or sanctuary area. Although flash photography is not permitted during the ceremony, it is permitted before and after the ceremony. Photography may be taken 15 minutes after the ceremony. These rules apply to professional photographers and all guests.
- Music: Consistent to the sanctity of the celebration, only liturgical music is allowed for the entire Church ceremony. Arrangements are made with the Director of Music by phone (ext. 233) or email, at least one month prior to the event. An additional $100 will be charged if the party arrives fifteen (15) minutes later or more of the designated start time of the ceremony. Please click HERE for the music selection list.
- Rehearsal: The rehearsal is generally scheduled the day before the event. Everyone participating as a reader or walking in the procession for the Mass should be in attendance for the rehearsal. It is important to BE PUNCTUAL. Everyone participating in the Mass must be on time.
- Arrival: Please arrive 30 minutes before the ceremony. Before departing the church, please remove all unwanted items and make sure you take everything with you that should go.
Cost: A donation for the use of the church, music and coordinator is $650. A $200 non-refundable deposit is required to reserve the date and time officially.
For any additional questions about Quinceañera celebrations, please contact the parish office.