City braces for 'Our Lady' talks

The New Mexican
April 13, 2001

The city and the Museum of New Mexico are going to great lengths to make it as easy as possible for people to voice their opinions about Our Lady, a controversial image of the Virgin of Guadalupe on display at the Museum of International Folk Art.

The public meeting is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Monday at Sweeney Center, on Marcy Street at Grant Avenue.

The city, which expects 1,000 people to attend, is providing shuttle-bus service between the rail yard and De Vargas Park, located opposite Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, to the Sweeney Center.

The cost of a day pass is $1. The shuttles will run between 8:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Parking fees will also be reduced Monday. The cost of parking in a city parking lot or at the Sandoval parking garage will be $1.

Marcy Street will be closed to through traffic in front of the center.

There will be 36 uniformed police officers and three units from the Santa Fe Fire Department on hand to manage the crowds. And free childcare will be available at the northwest corner of Sweeney Center.

The Santa Fe Community College's Institute for Intercultural Leadership will provide facilitators for the meeting. Members of the public are invited to participate in roundtable discussions during three time periods: 10:30 a.m. to noon; 1:30 p.m. until 3 p.m.; and 3:30 p.m. until 5 p.m. A public comment board will be provided for written opinions and microphones will be set up on the main floor of the convention center for timed comment throughout the day.

Santa Fe Community Television, cable channel 6, will televise the meeting live from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

"We are also looking forward to people participating in a respectful, thoughtful and caring process," said Gerard Martinez, the city's intercultural affairs director in a press release. "A process, that together with our different points of view and life experiences, will help build a stronger community."

Museum of New Mexico director Tom Wilson also released a letter he wrote to the Archbishop of Santa Fe Michael J. Sheehan on April 11 extending his "heartfelt apology" to him and other members of the religious community offended by the exhibit.

"I trust that we can all find our way toward a renewed sense of community through processes of engagement based upon principles of mutual respect and understanding," Wilson wrote.