September 30, the feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Rafael, was a celebratory day at Sacred Heart Parish in Richmond, VA. A large number of parishioners are Mixtecos, an indigenous Mesoamerican people of Mexico who inhabit parts of the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Guerrero and Puebla. San Miguel (St. Michael) is the Patron Saint of the town of Metlatónoc in the Guerrero State from which the majority hail. Metlatónoc is among the poorest municipalities in Mexico. It is San Miguel who watches over them both in Mexico and Richmond.
Fr. Shay Auerbach, SJ, presided over the outdoor procession and Mass, accompanied by Sacred Heart’s newly ordained permanent deacon, Francisco Ovalle, a Mexican native who is now a US citizen. The religious services were followed by a community feast in the parish hall. Later that evening, the Mixteco community organized a dance featuring bands that played and sang Mixteco music. The dance floor was packed. The feast was an opportunity for celebrating Mixteco’s ancient history, pre-colonial language and customs and deep-rooted Catholic faith. Today there are approximately 800,000 Mixteco people in Mexico plus large populations throughout the United States.