NEW YORK — The season of light and of anticipation began last week with a variety of Advent observances around the Province.
On Nov. 30, the first Sunday of Advent, the Mt. Irenaeus Franciscan Mountain Retreat posted on its Web site an Advent reflection by Robert Struzynski, OFM, and Martin Shields, a member of the Mt. Irenaeus Franciscan Sojournerscommunity, which every season compiles and distributes a reflection based on the Gospel.
In Hartford, Conn., seventh- and eighth-graders from the community of St. Patrick – St. Anthony Church held an annual Advent wreath-making event on Nov. 29.
In New York City, the St. Stephen of Hungary Parish is offering an Advent Twilight Retreat from 5:30 to 8 p.m on Dec. 9. Eric Carpine, OFM, leads the program at the church on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
Members of the Province’s Ministry of the Word (MOW) commemorate Advent in a wide variety of ways. William DeBiase, OFM, of Philadelphia, Pa., has posted an Advent reflection on his blog. He says: “Happy New Year. A little early for the civil greeting, but as you all know, the Church’s year begins with the Advent season.” He includes scripture reflections titled “An Advent Catechism.”
MOW member Kevin Cronin, OFM, who recently completed several parish missions, recommends watching the Christmas concert of popular singer Andrea Bocelli. The concert, which he said he has watched twice, has been broadcast on public television.
Kevin, who lives at St. Anthony Friary in Butler, N.J., said that the singer uses Franciscan themes and images. “In the middle of the concert, Andrea appears on stage, processing with 12 men dressed in Franciscan habits, singing ‘What Child is This?’” Kevin continued: “With never a word or introduction about St. Francis or Greccio, our 800th anniversary or anything, Andrea stands in the middle of the circle of 12. Perhaps he has some Franciscan roots? Perhaps this is some kind of veiled tribute to St. Francis and the first creche at Greccio, or the Order of Friars Minor?”
Kevin also completed an Advent Parish Mission at Holy Spirit Church in New Hyde Park, N.Y., that attracted 100 people at morning Mass and nearly 400 at evening service. On Dec. 3, he presided at an Advent Vesper Service at Our Lady of the Snow, Blue Point, N.Y. On Dec. 5, he began another Advent parish Mission at St. Joseph parish in Demarest, N.J.
‘O Antiphons’ Explored
In the Albany, N.Y., area, Peter Chepaitis, OFM, and Sr. Anna Tantsits, IHM, of Bethany Ministries, will lead a day of reflection on the meaning of Advent on Dec.12 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 at Oneness in Peace retreat center in Germantown. The theme of the day is: “Advent: What Are We Waiting For?” They will explore for evening prayer of the last week before Christmas, the special “O Antiphons” which are the basis of the Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” In addition, Peter will celebrate the 5:30 p.m. Mass at the Resurrection worship site of Holy Trinity Parish in Germantown on Dec. 13.
The “O Antiphons” will also be explored in New York City at a service on Dec. 17 at St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street. A recent parish bulletin said the O Antiphons refer to the seven antiphons recited or chanted preceding the Magnifat during Evening Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours. They cover the special period of Advent Preparations known as the Octave before Christmas, Dec. 17 to 23. Each “O Antiphon” highlights a different title for the Messiah. Also at the Midtown Manhattan church, Jerome Massimino, OFM, pastor, will offer an Advent reflection for members of the RENEW Young Retired Group as part of the group’s Dec. 18 Christmas luncheon.
In Washington, the seventh president of the Washington Theological Union was installed on Dec. 4 at the celebration of Advent Lessons and Carols at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington, D.C.
In North Carolina, HNP’s St. Francis Springs Prayer Center offered “An Afternoon of Taize Music and Prayer for Advent” on Dec. 6.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.