Dear Sisters and Brothers of Saint Therese Parish,
I have missed writing these bulletin letters to you while we were in quarantine these last couple of weeks. But here we are back again and I hope you are all well. This year has certainly been full of ups and downs, and we are not out of the woods of the pandemic yet. As far as the church and our services go, we will continue to do everything we can to keep things simple, safe and prayerful. Hopefully we will soon all be fully vaccinated and able to greet one another in peace.
Next Sunday is Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. Of course this holiest of weeks in the Church calendar is always special, but perhaps more so this year because of all that we have been through individually and as a community. There are some restrictions on what we can do liturgically during these days -no palms, washing of feet, live outdoor Passion, or Easter sunrise service -but we also have the wonderful opportunity for simple, shortened services this week that truly reflect both our pain and our hope. I encourage you to enter as fully as you can, in whatever way you are able.
On Palm Sunday we will have four Masses -two Vigil Masses on Saturday evening, (as usual one in English and one in Spanish), and two Sunday Masses in English, one at 8:30 and the other at 10:30. In place of palms we will be offering each person a beautiful pocket cross to carry with them during Holy Week and beyond.
On Holy Thursday the Mass of the Lord’s Supper will be offered at 7 P.M. with a very special “washing of the feet”. We have invited 12 “essential workers” who have “given their lives for their friends” to stand bare-foot in the sanctuary while we the assembled community, with outstretched arms, bless their feet. These will include representatives of police, fire, medical, school, grocery, delivery, ambulance workers and others who have served us unselfishly throughout this pandemic.
On Good Friday we will gather in the church at 3 P.M. to commemorate the Lord’s Passion with prayers of intercession, a reading of the Passion from the Gospel, veneration of the Cross and Holy Communion.
The Easter Vigil will begin at 8 P.M. on Holy Saturday evening with a lighting of the new fire and the new Paschal Candle; then our own individually held candles in the darkness of the church. We will renew our own baptismal commitment with the newly blessed Easter water with two members of our Saint Therese faith community receiving Confirmation. All the lights of the church will then be lit and the bells inside and out will ring out that Christ is Risen as we continue with our Mass.
We are planning that each of these services will last only an hour (perhaps the Vigil slightly more because of the lighting of the fire) and will include both Spanish and English languages. Easter morning Masses will be at 8:30 and 10:30.
Let us look forward in hope as together we celebrate new life in Christ.
Blessings and peace,
Father Bob, C.P.