Photographs of Awilda Saavedra Reasco's wedding and of her daughter's First Communion.

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Photographs of Awilda Saavedra Reasco's wedding and of her daughter's First Communion.


Religious ceremonies
Catholic Church—Customs and practices
Catholics—United States
Puerto Rican Catholics
First communion


These two photos were brought to the history harvest by Awilda Saavedra Reasco. The larger photo is of her wedding 29 years ago in 1988, and the smaller photo is of her daughter receiving her first communion in 2001 or 2002. Both occurred at St. Mary’s, one of the largest Roman Catholic churches in New Britain and the house of worship for many Puerto Rican families. St. Mary’s church is the oldest Roman Catholic Church in New Britain. When it first opened its doors it served mostly German immigrants but as the population of the city changed so too did the parish. From the 1960’s onward St. Mary’s has had a deep connection with the Spanish speaking community of New Britain. The first priest to give mass in both Spanish and English was Father Robert C. Broker. This tradition started in1962 with only 25 active Hispanic parishioners. Spanish masses were continued by Father Guillermo Burbank and later Reverend Paul Shaker, when the number of Hispanic parishioners reached between five and six hundred. In 1977 when the church hall was in need of a restoration it was the Spanish Action Committee of St. Mary’s Church that raised over $1,680 through fundraising and hosting a benefit dance. The Hispanic, mostly Puerto Rican, parishioners appreciated the Spanish mass so much that a celebration was held on October 28, 1990 to commemorate the 28th anniversary of the first mass in Spanish. It was organized by a member of the Saavedra family, Miriam Saavedra. Catholicism is one of the oldest aspects of Puerto Rican culture and a driving force behind many customs and traditions. It was first implemented by the Spanish conquers of Puerto Rico and has become a part of almost every aspect of the modern Puerto Rican culture.

Everything from the layout of the home to the language has been affected. It is standard practice for Puerto Rican Catholics to go through the sacraments of baptism, first communion, confession, conformation, last rights, and marriage. They often keep momentous of the events in their home. Photos such as these can be found hanging on the walls, on the tables, or in the photo albums in any Catholic Puerto Rican’s home. Items such as crucifixes, rosary beads, lit candles, and pictures of patron saints can also be found.

These sacraments have been unchanged for centuries but who they are being performed with has. A study taken by the American Journal of Sociology when the Saavedra family first came to New Britain showed that the number of Puerto Ricans marrying non Puerto Ricans was on the rise. Even as the Puerto Rican culture became more integrated into the community the Catholic religion remains. St. Mary’s is the home of Puerto Rican Catholicism in New Britain and always has been. These photos are symbolic of the devotion that the Puerto Ricans of New Britain have to Catholicism and St. Mary’s. They show the role the church plays throughout their lives, from baptism to funeral. St. Mary’s is there to offer guidance and comfort.

Citation for Supplementary Material and Context:

Awilda Saavedra Reasco, Awilda, (New Britain Puerto Rican Society Member) interviewed by Morgan Bengel April 6, 2017.

Maldonado-Denise, Manuel, The Emigration Dialectic Puerto Rico and the USA. New York: International Publishers, 1976.

Ortiz, Vilma, "Migration and Marriage among Puerto Rican Women." The International Migration Review 30, no. 2 (1996): 460-84.

Perez y Gonzalez, Maria, Puerto Ricans in the United States. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2000.

Rodriguez, Clara E., Puerto Ricans born in the USA.Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1989.

U.S. Bureau of Census, Census of Population and Housing: 1970 CENSUS TRACTS Final Report PHC(1) – 141 New Britain, Conn. SMSA.

Entry Author: Joseph Guerrera


Unknown Photographer


The Personal Collection of Awilda Saavedra Reasco


Awilda Saavedra Reasco


Creation Date: 1988, 2001-2002
Accession Date: April 6, 2017


Awilda Saavedra Reasco


Copyright to this resource is held by Awilda Saavedra Reasco and is provided here by CCSU for educational purposes only.


History Harvest 2017 Interview #4


.JPG Image Files




Still Images


History Harvest 2017, Object #6a and #6b (formerly object #13).


New Britain, CT; Connecticut; 1988; 1980s; 2001-02; early 2000s; 2017; 2010s; 20th century; 21st century.

Original Format

Framed photographs


Unknown Photographer , “Photographs of Awilda Saavedra Reasco's wedding and of her daughter's First Communion.,” Latino History Harvest, accessed July 20, 2024,

Output Formats