Tag: Sheila Myers

Nov 2 2009

Dia de los Muertos

By Enrique Espinosa, Sponsor Services Department

In Mexico, it is customary to honor our beloved family members who have gone before us by celebrating Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Every Nov. 1, Mexicans celebrate the passing of children (12 years and younger). This is more of a private ceremony.

Nov. 2 is the traditional Dia de los Muertos, which people celebrate by setting up an altar in the Church or the family’s home, depending on the community tradition. On the altar, they place the deceased’s photo, their favorite foods (including fruits, vegetables, hot chocolate, pan dulce, tamales, pulque, atoli, etc.) and flowers. Then the family prays the rosary and a novena. Afterward, they play the deceased’s favorite music.

This is a joyous occasion because they are celebrating the lives of their loved ones, and the fact that they have moved on to a better, eternal life, sharing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Day of the Dead fills a void
By Sheila Myers, Communications Department

The loss of a loved one leaves a hole in your heart. With time, you get used to living with this void, but occasionally, somethingñan aroma, a song, a situationñreminds you of the person and for a second, the hole closes and you feel oddly comforted.

Years ago, my husband and I discovered the Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday when you lovingly remember departed relatives and friends.

The holiday has its roots in the Aztec culture. The ancient Aztecs embraced death and viewed it as a continuation of life. They believed that life was a dream and only in death did they become truly awake. Day of the Dead for the Aztecs was a month-long celebration when the dead came back to visit. After the Spanish conquest, the ritual evolved and spread to other cultures. It is now celebrated to coincide with All Souls Day in the Catholic faith.

For the Day of the Dead, Mexicans build elaborate altars for their deceased. They fill it with pictures and mementos of the deceased and decorate with colorful flowers, candles, brightly painted skull masks and whimsical skeleton figurines called ìcalacas.î

When I learned about Day of the Dead, I welcomed the opportunity to put our departed loved ones front and center in our home, to talk about them with our children and to reflect on the essence of their lives.

So in early October, we gather photos of our deceased relatives and set them out in the living room. Our display is plain and simple, unlike the beautifully adorned altars I have seen. It lacks the favorite food and drink of our departed family. We donít play their favorite music or burn incense. But it serves the same purpose.

When I pass by the display, their faces call to me. I stop and reflect, remembering them and how their presence shaped my life. And for a brief moment, the hole is closed.

CFCA celebrated Dia de los Muertos at our headquarters in Kansas. Employees were invited to bring in photos and mementos of their departed loved ones. Below you can see a couple of photos of our altar. We would like to invite you to share some memories of your deceased loved ones with us in the comments section.

CFCA's Dia de los Muertos altar CFCA's Dia de los Muertos altar
Jun 3 2009

A graduation reflection

By Sheila Myers, communications writer

Sitting on the bleachers of the football stadium among hundreds of anxious family members, I watched as one-by-one, 500 high school graduates in blue caps and billowing gowns paraded down the field. It wasnít the cool breeze giving me goose bumps on that jubilant May evening, but the thrill of watching my oldest daughter receive her diploma.

Sheila Myers and her daughter and husbandAs a parent, the occasion of my daughterís graduation is one of indescribable pride and joy. The event is a major milestone in her life, the beginning of another chapter, and marks the culmination of years of hard work.

From the day Bernadette was born, there was never any doubt that she would attend high school. This expectationóthat our children will graduate from high schoolóis commonly shared by all the parents of my daughterís friends. Itís probably shared by most American parents: 73 percent of American students graduate from high school.

So I wonder how the parents of CFCA students feel when their children graduate from high school. I know that even with sponsorship support, parents make painful choices so their children can stay in school. It can cost a typical household a monthís income for bus fare alone, not to mention supplies and books.

I read about Daniel, a CFCA sponsored student in El Salvador who graduated last December. Daniel was raised by his father, a single parent who struggled to keep finding work so that Daniel and his two siblings could stay in school. At one point, Daniel had to leave school to help his father earn money, but then his father made him return. Daniel walked four miles to high school every day, even in the rainy season.

Like me and my husband, Danielís father understands that education is important for our childrenís future. We are both willing to make sacrifices so they can achieve their dreams, although I recognize the sacrifices Danielís father has made are far greater than ours. His effort is no less than heroic.

I hope when Danielís father watched Daniel receive his diploma, that he took time to savor the moment, to forget about lifeís daily pressures and to feel proud that he played a part in Danielís success.

Read what Daniel’s father thinks about his son graduating