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The Patio at Our Lady of Guadalupe

Tom Hanchett

guillermoconsuelo“Tacos and tamales helped build this place,” marvels Father Vicente Finnerty as he looks at the bustling Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church.

Opened in 2002 in west Charlotte near the Little Rock Road exit of I85, Our Lady serves mostly immigrants from Latin America.  It’s not a fancy structure, basically a steel prefab warehouse behind its Mexican adobe-style front.  But it is one of Charlotte’s busiest faith centers, offering Mass six times on Sunday and at least once most other days.

Attached to one side is the patio, a wooden roof over picnic tables and simple wood counters.  Here people gather on weekends for food and fellowship that reminds them of where they came from.

“Our community’s not affluent,” says Father Vicente.  Back in the 1990s, when Latino Catholics first started meeting in borrowed space in the Chantilly neighborhood, worshippers began bringing food to share after Mass, an inexpensive meal and a fund-raiser for the church.  “It became an important thing for our people, a time to spend together, a family time.”

Today worshippers come from across Central America and South America, and Our Lady’s menu keeps pace.  Volunteer leader Consuelo Herrera, from Mexico, makes tacos and tamales – and often the beef barbacoa special to her home state of Michoacan.  Co-leader Guillermo Cevallos sometimes prepares shrimp ceviche, tangy with onions and lemon juice, just as in his native Ecuador.  For parishioners from El Salvador there are usually pupusas, cornmeal pancakes stuffed with meat or beans.   And specials often pop up, such as lomo saltado — grilled beef and potatoes over rice — a dish beloved in Peru.

Our Lady of Guadalupe patio is not open to the general public,
but it welcomes visitors attending mass or exploring the church.
Food is usually available:
Friday  6pm – 8:30pm
Saturday 8am – 9pm
Sunday 6:30am – 8:30pm

6212 Tuckaseegee Road
Charlotte, NC 28214
(704) 391-3732

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