This article traces the significant yet largely unexplored experience of transnationalism in the lived religious experiences of Mexican and Mexican American Catholics by focusing on the parish as a central unit of analysis. Within this analysis, the parish unit is rethought as an analytical unit in two important regards. First, the way in which parish life in rural Mexico has been predominately conceptualized as one whose rhythm revolves around a traditional ritual calendar centered on community celebrations of particular religious holidays and localized votive devotions needs to be replaced. Based on research from an ongoing historical case study (1890-present) of a central Mexican parish, Nuestra Seññora del Rosario in Coeneo, Michoacáán, and on other parishes, the rhythm of parish life has clearly shifted to celebrations of marriages and baptisms. These religious celebrations of marriages and baptisms in Mexico have become the focal point of identity and community in this transnational Mexican and Mexican American experience. These sacraments of baptism and marriage have multiple meanings that not only include universal Catholic doctrines but also notions of family, community, and a particular appreciation for the sacralized landscape of their Mexican parish. Second, notions of parish boundaries as fixed and parish affiliation as singular must be reconsidered because many Mexicans and Mexican Americans living in the United States consider themselves to be active members in at least two parishes: one in Mexico and one or more in the United States.
- ©© 2009 by The Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture