Interfaith Center displays altars for Día de Los Muertos

Suffolk University’s Interfaith Center set up two altars for students to be able to celebrate Día de Los Muertos. 

The Interfaith Center collaborated with Professor Iani del Rosario Moreno, an associate professor of Spanish, the Center for Community Engagement’s Assistant Director of Community Partnerships Yvette Velez, Beatriz Patiño, the director of the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion and Madelyn Soto, administrative coordinator of the History, Language & Global Culture Department. 

The altars were available from Oct. 25-Nov. 3 from 3:30 p.m.-7 p.m. for students to light a candle for loved ones, or themselves, or submit a photo of their loved ones to be displayed on the altar. The altars were located at the Interfaith Center and in the Sawyer Library Display Case. 

“I wanted to bring awareness to the Suffolk community of the All-Saints Day celebration ‘Celebración del Día de Los Muertos’ in the Hispanic world which in Latin America (where I am from) is the synthetic fusion of Native American beliefs and celebrations with Catholic Christian beliefs.  I also want to acknowledge my colleagues and friends Beatriz Patino, Yvette Velez, and Madelyn Soto” said Moreno.

The altars were decorated in Ofrendas (offerings) including candles, bright marigolds called cempasuchil, and many traditional Latin American textiles.

“When I lived in my home country, my family and I would go to the cemetery. They would make sure to clean the graves and leave flowers for our family’s loved ones. In the cemetery, we would sit around their graves and tell stories about them so that we could get to know them. That is how I was able to learn about my aunt Eva (mi Tia Evita) whom I never got to know because she died when she was six years old (killed by a drunk driver),” Moreno said. “It is a day to remember all those whom we have lost. It is a day for us to remember the departed.”

The Reverend Amy L. Fisher, the university chaplain and director of the interfaith center, helped set up the altars as part of the Interfaith Center’s “Death Week.”

“We created the altar for our students of Mexican, Aztec and Catholic origin to celebrate the tradition of their ancestors,” said Fisher. 

The altars had a great impact on the Suffolk community as Professor Moreno received a message from her colleague Ronald Suleski, PhD, professor and director of the Rosenberg Institute for East Asian studies. 

“It is a way to honor and comfort the departed. It is a celebration of the life they once lived. Candles for brightness and sugar bread for celebration. It is a more comforting and bonding remembrance than I had read about and is embraced widely in Latin America,” Suleski wrote.