For the first time in nearly 50 years, mariachi music and devotional songs praising the Virgin of Guadalupe poured into the streets Sunday from the Old Adobe Church in downtown Scottsdale.
The Catholic church, located at First Street and Brown Avenue, celebrated its first Mass since December 1956.
The parish, now Our Lady of Perpetual Help, moved to Miller Road in the mid-1950s when it outgrew the smaller adobe church. The church was designated last year as a historic building and is being restored for prayer and special occasions. On Sunday, all that remained of the original interior was the altar, a pew, stained glass windows and five lighting fixtures.
About 150 worshippers didn't seem to mind that the church had yet to be restored to its original grandeur. Many were parishioners of the old church. At least six had been baptized there. A few traveled from as far as Canada. All came to sit in folding chairs and celebrate the third Sunday of Advent, or the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Amid waves, smiles of recognition and tears of joy, the band played, the congregation stood and the processional began the start of the invitation-only Mass.
Monsignor Eugene Maguire, the adobe church's priest from December 1952 to December 1956, came out of retirement to celebrate the Mass along with the Rev. Thomas Hever, Our Lady of Perpetual Help's parish priest.
Wearing his robe from the 1950s, Maguire greeted worshippers in Spanish and English. After the one-hour Mass, Maguire shared his impressions of his early days in Scottsdale.
"This was a small town of just about 1,000 people," Maguire said in an Irish accent, adding that "there was nobody rushing around like now."
Scottsdale may have been more relaxed then, but a few of the church's original parishioners recalled that Maguire wasn't.
"I remember the monsignor chasing us kids down the alley to get us to go to catechism, (Sunday school)," Angelila Morales Forausto, 59, of Phoenix said as the congregation erupted into knowing laughter.
Afterward, the congregation filtered out for hot chocolate and Mexican sweet bread in the church's northern courtyard, where old friends reunited and embraced.