Los Banos is rich in Portuguese traditions and history. Eighty-five percent of the Portuguese population in California is from the Azores in Portugal. For the past 76 years, the Los Banos Portuguese community has celebrated its OLF Celebration by having a traditional 10-day Festa (religious festival).  Our Lady of Fátima (Portuguese: Nossa Senhora de Fátima) is a Catholic title of Mary, mother of Jesus, based on the appearance of Mother Mary reported in 1917 by three shepherd children in Fátima, Portugal. The celebration started on Sept. 30 and ended Oct. 9.

The OLF Celebration is hosted by the Our Lady of Fatima Society, a group of St. Joseph’s parishioners who banded together in 1946 with dual missions: honoring Our Lady through prayer and raising money to build and support Our Lady of Fatima School. The Society’s members have raised more than $1 million for OLF and the celebration is its largest annual fundraiser. The celebration is a special time for the school and parish supporters to work together and celebrate their beliefs and rich cultural history. The OLF families show their appreciation and dedication by volunteering and participating in as many of the celebration events as possible.  The novenas, rosaries, and masses were held at St. Joseph’s Church and final festivities were held at the Los Banos D.E.S. Portuguese Hall on the last Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the celebration.  highlights of the festivities included Portuguese music, dance, and food, an animal auction, and a candlelight procession with an adoration of the blessed sacrament.  On the tenth and final day, there was a parade from the D.E.S. Hall to St. Joseph Church that included the present organizations and marching bands. At the church, a Mass was celebrated in honor of Our Lady of Fatima. Mass was followed by a procession back to the D.E.S. hall accompanied by the parish statues, marching bands, present organizations along with all who participated. As with most Portuguese celebrations, a meal was served for all who were present. A live auction was held for the donated gifts along with a bazaar. The recitation of the rosary closed the festivities for another successful OLF celebration.

“This year’s Our Lady of Fatima Society Presidents Dustin and Kym McAdam would like to thank our officers, committee, friends and family, OLF school parents and the community for all the help and support for the celebration this year,” Dustin said. “We are very grateful and blessed to have been this year’s presidents for Our Lady of Fatima Celebration. Our Lady of Fatima pray for us!”

Sandy Lemas

Sandy Lemas is a longtime resident of Los Banos who has volunteered much of her time to community service. She will be writing a regular column on volunteers and volunteer organizations that help their community.