Advent Events Focus on Varied Themes

Johann Cuervo Around the Province

After a weekend of first Sunday of Advent liturgies, ministries around the Province are gearing up to celebrate the season of light in a variety of ways over the coming weeks.

This year’s events include presentations by friars, the chance to learn more about the music played during the season and alternative giving opportunities.

Meditation and Music
At St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City, William Beaudin, OFM, kicked off the season on Dec. 2 with an “Advent Afternoon of Prayer” that included presentations, communal prayer, and personal quiet time. Participants concluded the day by joining the St. Francis of Assisi parish community at the vigil Mass for the first Sunday of Advent. On Dec. 17, the music ministry will be hosting it’s 5th annual “Christmas Carols with the Choir” event. Information is available on the parish’s website and Facebook page.

Music and song continue to play a vital role in the life of God’s people today. The community of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Triangle, Va., invites everyone to enjoy an evening of Christmas praise presented by its music ministry on Dec. 15. In South Carolina, St. Andrew Church in Clemson will be hosting two days of singing to refuel the Christmas spirit on Dec. 10 and Dec. 17.

“As Christmas nears, take a few minutes to catch your breath and de-stress with an old-fashioned congregational Christmas singing in the Chapel,” says Daniel McLellan, OFM, pastor. “The Advent season is busy with ending an academic semester and readying for a wonderful holiday. As we build for the future with brick and mortar, a continuing challenge is to build with opportunities for the parish to reach out to our students, and with opportunities for students to reach-in to the rest of us.”

Thomas Conway, OFM, director of St. Anthony Shrine, Boston, shared the same sentiment. “We improve our spiritual life by slowing down,” he said.

“We grow by being attentive to and helping people who move slowly and perhaps even inefficiently, those advanced in years, children, the sick, the poor,” he added.  “Jesus speaks profoundly to us in quiet moments when ‘nothing’ is getting accomplished. And so, at the beginning of another Advent, the time of waiting for the baby Jesus, may this holy season become a growth-filled time of great inefficiency for you.”

Tony LoGalbo, OFM, will give a presentation titled “Meditation on the Christmas Creche” on Dec. 16 at the Shrine. Tony is a former director of the Center for Franciscan Spirituality and Spiritual Direction at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York.

In Hartford, Thomas Gallagher, OFM, pastor of St. Patrick-St. Anthony Parish, said, “Advent is rich in opportunities for gathering in memory of the Lord as we celebrate his presence with us now and look to the fullness of life in him. I invite everyone to take advantage of the Advent Nourishment series, the Advent Twilight Retreat, and our Lessons through Carols moving invitation to prayer through Handel’s Messiah.”

On Dec. 12, Kenneth Paulli, OFM, of Siena College, will lead an evening of reflection inspired by the seasonal messages of Hope titled “People Look East: Looking and Waiting with Advent Hope” at the Hartford parish.

Giving Trees, Alternate Christmas Gifts
This season, Sacred Heart Church in Tampa, Fla., is partnering with Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health and the parish’s foster care ministry to sponsor the Giving Tree for children in relative care and those receiving family-support services by the organization.

According to the parish’s bulletin, “participating children live in Sulphur Springs, one of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged neighborhoods of Tampa. Devereux provides case-management services for these children while working to safely reunify them with their families or find them a forever home through adoption.”

The organization also provides family support services and work closely with high-risk middle and high school students to be successful and well qualified for post-secondary education or career opportunities. The Giving Tree has gift suggestions for each child.

The Catholic Center at the University of Georgia in Athens is also participating in a Christmas Giving Tree program. This year, the Giving Tree will benefit Oasis Católico Santa Rafaela, a Catholic ministry n the Pinewood Estates North mobile home park in Athens, according to the center’s bulletin.

In Silver Spring, Md., Christopher Posch, OFM, and the friars at St. Camillus Church invite everyone to contribute to the alternate Christmas gift initiative to benefit the people of Haiti.

“Our parish’s Alternate Christmas Gift will help the Fieffe Foundation for Haiti to build a self-sustainable community, providing the people with the resources they need to become independent, and improve the lives of women and youth in Bainet, Haiti,” said Chris on a Facebook post. “Recently, they have provided over 500 scholarships for children and women, built latrines and replaced a building destroyed by the 2010 earthquake. Donations will help with their future plans to build the first library and a medical center.”

On Dec. 8, ministries around the Province will be celebrating the feast of the Immaculate Conception and on Dec. 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Information about seasonal programs can be found by visiting the websites of the Province’s ministries.

— Johann Cuervo is the communications assistant for Holy Name Province.

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