As Catholics around the world are called into the stillness of the Advent season, Holy Name Province’s ministries are busily organizing programs to help people prepare for Christmas. This year’s events include retreats, alternative shopping experiences and the chance to learn more about the music played during the season.
Mary is at the center of this year’s Advent program at St. Mary’s Parish in Pompton Lakes, N.J. The community is offering several events, including a living rosary, movies and feast day Masses. Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson will begin the series with a presentation titled “Mary From a Biblical Point of View” at 7 p.m. on Dec. 4.
Those looking to incorporate moments of silence and reflection in their Advent journeys might consider attending a retreat titled “Be Still and Know That I Am God,” led by Patricia Curtis and Sally Mazzarella from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 4 and 11 at St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church in Hartford, Conn. The event invites people to take time “to be still and come to know once again the true spirit of Advent.”
At Holy Name Parish in New York City, Provincial Vicar Lawrence Hayes, OFM, will lead an Advent retreat in Spanish on Saturday, Dec. 6. Titled “Alegría del Emanuel, Alegría del Evangelio,” the retreat will reflect on Advent themes by dipping into Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel.” Prayer and a reconciliation service will also be included.
Fr. Ferd Cheri, OFM, of Sacred Heart Province, will lead a weeklong Advent mission during the week of Dec. 19 at St. Anthony Parish in Greenville, S.C.
Advent is an active season for the Ministry of the Word friars, who are scheduled to give retreats in Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York this year. The MOW’s itinerary is available online.
On the evening of Dec. 1, St. Anthony Shrine in Boston hosted an Advent twilight retreat for “busy people.” John Hogan, OFM, Gene Pistacchio, OFM, and Jackie Stewart, the Shrine’s director of evangelization and the Franciscan Adult School, led the program.
Several parishes are offering Advent penance services in the weeks leading up to Christmas. They include St. Francis Church in New York City with a service on Dec. 15 and St. Bonaventure Parish in Paterson, N.J., on Dec. 17.
For those seeking spiritual sustenance, Thomas Gallagher, OFM, pastor of St. Patrick-St. Anthony Parish, is leading a retreat titled “Advent Nourishment” on Dec. 2, 9 and 16 at noon after Mass. On Dec. 8, Frank McHugh, OFM, will offer “Care of the Soul,” an Advent spiritual enrichment day, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Paterson’s St. Bonaventure Church.
The Advent season is always accompanied by festive music, whether sung in church or played on a radio. On Dec. 7, the adult and junior choirs, and choir chimes of St. Andrew Parish in Clemson, S.C., are hosting a meaningful hour of music and readings celebrating Advent and the birth of Jesus Christ at 4 p.m. The hour will include “beautiful anthems, such as ‘I Wonder as I Wander,’ ‘Ave Maria,’ and ‘O Magnum Mysterium,’” as well as “congregational carols such as ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,’ ‘Angels We Have Heard on High’ and more,” according to the program’s description.
In Stoneville, N.C., St. Francis Springs Prayer Center is hosting an afternoon of Taize music and prayer for Advent from 3 to 6 p.m. on Dec. 7. Because the event has sold out in the past, those interested are encouraging to buy tickets ahead of time.
On Dec. 13, St. Francis Parish in New York City will reflect on the O Antiphons during an “Advent Morning of Prayer” from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in San Damiano Hall. Sr. Fran McManus, RSM, will lead a guided reflection during which participants will “consider Christ’s multi-faceted saving presence and our response to him.”
Immaculate Conception Parish in Durham, N.C., invites all to the 11th Annual Advent Alternative Gift Fair after each Mass on Dec. 6 and 7. Attendees can choose to make a donation to one of 20 organizations in the name of a loved one. All of the organizations are working to help those suffering from poverty, making this “a wonderful opportunity for us to respond personally, actively, concretely and directly to alleviate the scandal of poverty,” according to the event’s description.
In Triangle, Va., St. Francis Parish will hold its annual parish Fair Trade Global Bazaar from Dec. 6 to 7 after Mass. Shoppers will find unique Christmas gifts, including chocolate, coffee, tea, olive oil, clothing, jewelry, ornaments and other handmade crafts from around the world.
More information about Advent programs can be found by visiting the websites of the Province’s ministries.
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.