Written by Donna M. Ottaviano-Britt
Everyone has heard the phrase, “Paint the Town Red.” But have you ever heard the phrase, “Paint the Diocese Red”? As the first fruits of the Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in South Jersey — you should definitely see red throughout Camden Diocese over Pentecost weekend, June 8-9.
Pentecost occurs 50 days after Easter and celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit. This was the great sending of the Apostles — to go out and share the Good News. Red represents the Holy Spirit and you can expect to see it on display in abundance. Not only will you see it in your churches, but you are likely to see it on your fellow parishioners who will be wearing something red.
The Convocation delegates across the diocese have some creative and holy plans — so all can be fired up in the spirit on this important solemnity.
At Saint John Neumann in North Cape May, Father Ernest R. Soprano, pastor, said the team is leading the way to connect Missionary Discipleship with Pentecost. “We are heading to Pentecost with excitement, and we are making 1,000 cookies in the shape of a white dove to bring attention to the day,” Father Soprano said.
Anne Marie Gavin, business administrator and delegate for Saints Peter and Paul Parish in Turnersville, said that on Pentecost Sunday red be highly visible, the music will be appropriate to the day, and the faithful can expect a little catechesis on the call to missionary discipleship.
“To experience Pentecost in a revitalized light — to grasp and comprehend that it is more than one Sunday — it is an everyday challenge to spread the Good News, to love one another as he has loved us. Yes, we celebrate this once per year. Our mission as his disciples is to live it every day and at every opportunity add another sheep to the flock that is his and thus, ours,” she said.
Saint Vincent de Paul, Mays Landing, has begun paving the way to Pentecost and it began with the close of the religious education program with homemade, holy kites. Father Ted Heintzelman, pastor, has begun educating his flock on the ancient symbols of the Holy Spirit, as well as reminding the parish about the fruits and gifts, according to Michel Anthony, a delegate to the Convocation.
“The weekend prior to Pentecost, we will be handing out cut-outs of flames and doves. Parishioners will then write their confirmation name and a fruit for which they are especially thankful. These will be part of the offertory on Pentecost. Each of us will thank God for the gift, then share the gift with the community,” Anthony said. The flames and doves will also contribute to a collage shaping an image of the body of Christ. It will welcome the parish family into the Pentecost celebration.
Laurie Power, Director of Evangelization and Discipleship at Christ the Redeemer, Atco, said members of her delegation, along with others, are heading out to the Berlin Mart throughout Pentecost weekend. She said many on the team have been through the Saint Paul Street Evangelization training program. They are renting space, setting up a table with Rosaries and other information. Power said they have great hope to engage people. “We are making signs so people in need of prayer or have questions have a place. And, we would love others to come and join us so feel free to come,” Power said.
At Saint Andrew the Apostle in Gibbsboro, when the congregation prays the Our Father at Mass, all will pray in their native language. For those few moments, people can place themselves in the Scripture passage where all heard the Apostles in their own language, according to Suzette Parungao, a Convocation delegate.
This day holds a double blessing for Saint Andrew as it is the 30th anniversary of the dedication of the church. Pentecost will be the beginning of a yearlong celebration of the parish. “We want to be contagious for them, Parungao said. “Let them know they can sparkle with the spirit, too. We have shared our stories with the parish, and we want them to know they should share theirs,” she said.
This day commemorates and animates for us the work of the Apostles — they took the Joy of the Gospel to ends of the earth. Our receipt of the sacraments of baptism and confirmation calls each of us to the same. The Holy Spirit is on the move in the Diocese of Camden. He is with us and empowers us to be the apostles in the 21st century. Be holy!
Donna M. Ottaviano-Britt is director of Missionary Discipleship, Diocese of Camden.