The Mancos United Methodist Church is planning an event to celebrate Christmas and honor immigrant Rosa Sabido’s 200th day in sanctuary.
On Saturday, Dec. 23, the church will host a “posada,” a Mexican Christmas tradition that re-enacts Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter before the birth of Jesus. Jeanette Vizguerra, an immigration activist from the Denver area who spent 86 days in sanctuary earlier this year to avoid deportation, will speak during the event. After the Posada and a meet-and-greet with Sabido and Vizguerra, guests will be invited to stay for a community Christmas dinner.
Las Posadas is a celebration traditionally held in Mexico during the Advent season. Two people dressed like Mary and Joseph go to different houses in a town each night and sing a song asking for shelter. The resident of each house sings another song denying the request, until the couple reaches the house belonging to the designated stable-owner, who finally invites them in.
Annie Seder, part of a group of volunteers that cares for Sabido in sanctuary, said the church’s celebration will be an abridged version of the traditional Posada. It will take place in the Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, where cookies and hot chocolate will be served after the ceremony.
“It’s very symbolic, because Mary and Joseph were immigrants, in a sense,” Seder said.
A potluck dinner will also be served starting at 6 p.m.
According to a news release from the church, Dec. 19 will be the 200th day since Sabido, a Cortez resident, claimed sanctuary to avoid deportation. But the Posada event was scheduled to coincide with Vizguerra’s visit. She will visit Mancos as part of a tour through several Colorado sanctuary churches around the Christmas season. Vizguerra is the founder of MUJERR, an advocacy group for migrant women. In April, she was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world for 2017.
“It’s kind of a big deal, her coming down here,” Seder said.
Vizguerra was granted a two-year stay of removal this year while private bills designed to grant her permanent residency status make their way through Congress. Sabido has petitioned for a similar bill, but federal policy has changed so that she cannot be granted a stay of removal while it proceeds.
During the Dec. 23 event, Vizguerra will speak about the ongoing struggles of Colorado immigrants in sanctuary. The evening will conclude with a Christmas potluck dinner hosted by the church.
This will be the last of four similar events in honor of immigrants in sanctuary this month. Foothills Unitarian Church in Denver will host a “family dinner” with immigrant Ingrid Encalada Latorre on Dec. 15. Vizguerra will attend a “call to action” with Sandra Lopez at Third Street Center in Carbondale on Dec. 16. Araceli Velasquez and her husband, Jorge, will host another call to action event at Temple Micah in Denver on Dec. 17.
In the news release, organizer Joanie Trussel wrote that the Posada will also include “a moment of prayer” for immigration reform.
“For many, the holidays are a time to be surrounded by family and loved ones,” she wrote. “Those in sanctuary are facing isolation from their families and the threat of permanent separation, and every day thousands of immigrants from all over the world are living with this same fear.”
The event will be free and open to the public.