Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas Alleluia at My Parish, St. Mary's in Painesville, Ohio

Christmas Alleluia at St. Mary’s Painesville

On Tuesday, December 15th, at 8 PM, I drove to St. Mary’s to pick up my wife, who was finishing up teaching her PSR catechism class. St. Mary’s has a very fine PSR program, directed by Dr. Shanon Sterringer, and made possible by many dedicated teachers. At the end of class, several of the 8-10 year old Latino students in my wife’s class asked to be excused to go next door to the Fr. Hanzo Center, where the Posados celebration was beginning. This is an ancient religious novena, 9 evenings, celebrated in parts of Mexico, Central and South America, and in a few communities in the United States—including Painesville, Ohio. To my astonishment, there was a procession of about 100 people, led by children dressed as Mary and Joseph, some people carrying candles, and almost everyone singing. The song was a dialogue between Mary and Joseph, desperately seeking shelter, and innkeepers, who responded that there was no more room. What a wonderful celebration of our faith—right here at St. Mary’s in Painesville, Ohio.

At the very moment this was taking place, members of several churches and St. Mary’s, including our music ministry, were holding a Christmas sing-along/liturgy in the Lake County Jail. They were meeting three large groups of imprisoned men and women—singing and praying with them, being with them, bringing comfort and companionship and the beauty of our Christianity to those who have temporarily lost their freedom.

These were three of the activities going on, almost simultaneously, in our parish, a community that is answering the call of Pope Francis for mercy, reconciliation, and celebration. Our parish is singing out, loud and clear, a Christmas Alleluia!

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