Aztec dancers lead the divine mercy procession in Beaverton.
Aztec dancers lead the divine mercy procession in Beaverton.
BEAVERTON — More than 300 Catholic faithful flowed alongside one of Beaverton’s main thoroughfares April 28 in a march celebrating divine mercy.

Motorists gaped, ignored, smiled or honked as the happy group carried the Eucharist and a large image of Jesus, all the while singing songs of faith. Marchers followed a team of young Aztec dancers, and a mariachi band strolled to bring up the rear.

It was the 15th year for the two-mile trek down Farmington Road. The Festival of Divine Mercy begins with prayers and a meal at Valley Catholic School and ends with Mass at St. Cecilia Church.

“It feels so good to walk for the faith with everyone,” said Tomas Esquivel, who with wife Maria del Carmen brings their children and other relatives each year.

“I do it for the faith, more than anything, for the faith,” said del Carmen, who has helped with the prayers and the procession for the past four years. “It is for the faith and for families.”

Taking their beliefs and identity onto the street into public does not frighten the Esquivel-del Carmen family, who say they feel strengthened by faith and by community.

For Cesar Hugo Rivera, the day is about joy.

“It’s fun to walk and get to the church,” said Rivera, wearing a shirt distributed for the festival. On the front is an image of Jesus with rays of light emerging from his heart. On the back is a picture of St. Faustina Kowalska, the early 20th-century Polish nun who had a mystical experience of divine mercy and described the light-emitting vision of Jesus.

Sheccid Mejia, a 16-year-old student at Aloha High School, comes every year.

“It’s a really fun time,” Sheccid said. “I don’t think this kind of thing happens very often. It’s a kind of a once in a lifetime thing. It’s part of my religion.”

Beaverton’s divine mercy festival and procession began 15 years ago. Sheccid’s aunt, Blanca Salazar, helped begin the tradition. Divine mercy processions are popular in Mexico.