What is a quinceañera?

The quinceañera is a traditional celebration of life and gratitude to God on the occasion of the fifteenth birthday of a young Hispanic woman. The ritual emphasizes her passage from childhood to adulthood. The family usually requests a Mass or a blessing to be held in the Church.

What is the origin of the quinceañera?

The tribes of Meso-America, possibly the Mayas and Toltecs, celebrated elaborate rites of passage for their young men and women. Rites of passage are known to have existed in the Iberian Peninsula as well. The Spanish conquistadores may have brought the practice to Meso-America. It is possible that the missionaries would have approved of this practice, since these rites closely paralleled Christian practices of initiation and marriage. The ancient Mozarabic Rite of the Iberian peninsula had elaborate rituals marking the passage of baptized adolescents, each of which included specific references to Christian initiation and each of which was celebrated following the reception of Holy Communion at Mass. With the suppression of the Mozarabic Rite, many of these rituals passed into popular religious practice.

How is the quinceañera celebrated?

In the presence of family and friends, the young woman (the quinceañera), after the Liturgy of the Word, makes a commitment to God and the Blessed Virgin to live out the rest of her life according to the teachings of Christ and the Church by renewing her Baptismal promises.  A special blessing of the quinceañera concludes the Liturgy of the Eucharist. After Mass, the young woman is presented to the community. The ritual continues with a dinner and sometimes a dance in her honor.

The quinceañera is not a sacrament, but it is a sacramental for which a certain time of study and preparation is asked.


Why do parents present their daughter for this celebration?

The parents, in coming to the parish Church seeking the blessing, acknowledge that their daughter has reached the age where she is capable of handling additional responsibility. They see the quince años Mass as a way to thank God for the blessing of their daughter’s life and to seek God’s blessing and guidance as she enters adulthood. The extended family, (grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles and cousins) is usually present, to celebrate with the quinceañera.

How can this celebration be a means of strengthening the faith of Latino youth?

Adults have a responsibility to pass on the faith to younger members of the community. The celebration of quince años is a crucial time in the life of a young Hispanic woman. While society invites youth to gang membership, drug and alcohol abuse and irresponsible sexual behavior, the Church can offer the quinceañera an opportunity to reflect on her role as a Catholic Christian woman in a society which often distorts the woman’s role.

The U.S. Bishops’ pastoral letter, Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry is a call to personal discipleship, evangelization and leadership of youth so strong that the bishops ask the entire Church to make ministry with adolescents its concern as well. The letter focuses on three goals: empowering young people to live as disciples of Christ in today’s world; drawing young people to responsible participation in the life, mission and work of the faith community; and fostering the personal and spiritual growth of each young person.
The quinceañera ritual is valuable for the religious message it sends not only to young people, but also to parents, grandparents, godparents and the entire parish in calling them to prayerfully join with youth in making a commitment to God and the Church.

Taken from: USCCB Committee on Divine Worship -

Guidelines for the Quinceañera Celebration at St. Vincent de Paul

The Quinceañera is not just another excuse to have a party. It is a time of thanksgiving for life, family and community. The following are the policy and guidelines for our St. Vincent de Paul Quinceañera program:

1.   The family must be registered in the parish for a period of three (3) months prior to the date of the first preparation session. The family should be attending Mass weekly and tithing.  Otherwise, the honoree may take the classes at St. Vincent’s, but the mass will not be held here.

2.   The honoree should register for her/his Quince Años ceremony on or before her/his 13th birthday but no later than her/his 14th birthday (one year before her/his 15th birthday). This will allow sufficient time for preparation classes before celebrating her/his Quince Años ceremony after her/his 15th birthday.  Otherwise, the celebration can be held at any time without consideration for meeting a desire to have it on his/her 15th birthday.

3.   The honoree must have been baptized in the Roman Catholic Church and must have received First Eucharist prior to the time of the ceremony. If the honoree has not received the Sacrament of Communion, she/he should be enrolled to prepare to receive the sacrament before the Quince Años ceremony. (Certificates must be provided).

4.   The honoree should be registered and attending religious education classes for one full year while preparing for her/his Quince Años celebration.  The young person must also be actively involved in the parish’s youth ministry program.

5.   The honoree must attend and complete six (6) preparation sessions, accompanied at the first session for a faith interview by her/his parents. If circumstances prevent the young person from attending one of the sessions, she/he must attend a makeup of the session.  No more than one class can be missed; after that the honoree will not be completing the class with the group and will complete their sessions with the next group.

6.   As Christians we are called to serve others, the honoree must participate in at least two service projects in our church between the beginning of her/his preparation and the Quince Años ceremony.  Letters of attendance and participation will be required.

7.   The preparation sessions will consist of:

a)   Initial meeting

b)   Session I ­– Background and meaning of the “Quince Años”

c)   Session II – Women’s Roles in Our Society

d)   Session III – Preparation for Celebration at St Vincent’s

e)   Session IV – Preparation for Presentation to Pastor and the Director of Music and Liturgy

f)    Session V – Continued and/or finalization/makeup of classes

g)   Final meeting – Meet with Pastor and Director of Music and Liturgy

8.   The Quince Años ceremonies are scheduled at the 5:30 pm masses only and in English.  Classes begin in January and June.

9.   The Quince Años ceremony is not a sacrament of the Catholic Church. Every effort must be made to distinguish this event as a sacramental like daily prayer and special blessings. Since white is the color worn for sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist and Matrimony, the Quince Años honoree may not wear a purely white dress nor a light beige dress. The dress may be white as long as there is also a prominent accent color on the dress.

10. The procession may include the honoree, her parents, her Baptismal Godparents, and her grandparents.

11. Friends of the honoree are encouraged to participate in the ceremony to pledge their support and encouragement. They may not participate as couples as in a wedding. Further guidelines on the role of the honorees friends will be given during the session for planning the ceremony.

12. Everyone participating in the ceremony must be present at 5pm on the date of the event. The honoree, the family and all other participants are encouraged to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) before the day of the ceremony.

For more informaiton on preparation and the fees involved, please contact the church office. (817) 478-8206.

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