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Accompanied by music from a seven-piece mariachi band, more than 100 students, faculty and staff came together in procession to mark Día de los Muertos at Dominican University.

The day of remembrance and of connecting with ancestors, which is rooted in Mexican culture, was celebrated Nov. 2 and led by University Ministry, drawing a large, diverse crowd.

The procession included prayer, reflection and blessing of six campus ofrendas designed and created by students. This year’s theme was "Somos de la Tierra: Celebrating Our Connectedness." Students developed the Earth-focused theme in light of the ongoing ecological crisis facing the planet. 

“The theme is a call for us to remember that we’re all interconnected because the Earth is our common home,” said Andrew Mercado, associate director of University Ministry. “We are called to live in a way that is reflective of the right relationships with the Earth, with the land and with resources. Our ofrendas reflect on different topics within this theme.”

Offerings of flowers and fruits were included in the colorful ofrendas, which also paid respect to the dead, including loved ones of the university community and notable figures.

“Our ancestors are with us on our journey,” read student Emily Reynoso Muñoz as the blessing of the ofrenda in the Parmer Hall Atrium began. Mercado encouraged the crowd gathered to “think about the many ways our world is in need of healing.”

“Día de los Muertos is a celebration of life,” explained student Ingrid Bustos, who helped decorate a campus ofrenda for the first time this year. “It really isn’t a celebration of death; it’s nothing dark. You’re celebrating a loved one, you’re celebrating their life and how much they accomplished in their life.”

“I’m Mexican so I really like that we’re sharing our culture with everybody,” Reynoso Muñoz added. “It’s nice they can come here and see this culture on campus and be educated a little bit more on it.”

The celebration concluded with a social gathering of food, Mariachi music and fellowship in the Noonan Reading Room.