Last weekend, unified faithful throughout the Diocese of Camden were wearing and seeing red — in a good way.
Inspired by the recent Convocation of Catholic Leaders and filled with the Holy Spirit, parish communities spent the feast of Pentecost in joy, celebration and outreach.
Landing 50 days after Easter, Pentecost marks the Holy Spirit’s appearance to the Apostles, and their going forth to share the Gospel.
In the same way, convocation delegates from Atco’s Christ the Redeemer Parish engaged in street evangelization at the Berlin Mart. On Saturday and Sunday, the enthusiastic parishioners passed out free rosaries, books and prayer resources to curious passersby, engaged people in friendly conversation and promised to pray for intentions.
At Church of the Incarnation in Mantua, worshippers were sent home after Masses with home-baked red cookies, WaWa raffle tickets, a mug reading “Faith” and Bible passages on strips of paper.
Cookies were a popular (and delicious) item last weekend, as North Cape May’s Saint John Neumann Parish passed out dove-shaped cookies. They were also available at Saint Thomas Parish in Brigantine, as convocation delegates and volunteers packed 1,800 sugar cookies with red sprinkles representing tongues of fire.
As well, two tents were set up at the church entrance, one representing the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord), and the other the 12 Fruits (charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faith, modesty, self-control and chastity), an umbrella decorated with all the ministries the parish has to offer, and a poster with “Come Holy Spirit” in different languages.
A multilingual prayer, “Oyenos, Señor,” was used at Saint Vincent de Paul Parish in Mays Landing, honoring the different backgrounds of the faith community, and recalling the mission of the Apostles.
During the afternoon Hispanic Mass at Glassboro’s Saint Bridget University Parish, parishioners shared their particular gifts of the spirit in front of each other.
Also in Glassboro, at Mary, Mother of the Church, red paper doves were passed out at the beginning of Mass, during which the presider asked the congregation to write their confirmation name and a prayer intention on the paper. Those in the pews then introduced themselves to their neighbor and shared their confirmation name. Following Mass, the parish dedicated their new Memorial to the Unborn.
At Our Lady of the Angels Parish and Saint Teresa of Calcutta, in Cape May Court House and Collingswood respectively, after-Mass fellowship took place, as their people took the opportunity to celebrate the birthday of the church and get to know one another, sharing baked goods such as donuts and cake with red icing. Our Lady of the Angels faithful also shared stories of the meaningful impact religious men and women have had on their lives.
A joyful spirit descended on parishioners entering Saint Joseph’s Church in Somers Point last weekend, as they were given yellow and red flame stickers. After Mass, the celebration continued in the parish hall with all singing around a birthday cake, “Happy Birthday to Us!”
Father Paul Harte, pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Linwood, shared with his parishioners his encounter with the Holy Spirit as a member of a Charismatic prayer group during his first years as a newly-ordained priest. A prayer group devoted to the Holy Spirit has since begun at his parish, beginning with a small group of 10, and now already swelled to as many as 50 faithful.
In Lindenwold, the Parish Shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe welcomed newcomers to the liturgy, and heard witness talks from Convocation delegates.
After each Mass at Cherry Hill’s Saint Thomas More Parish, worshippers were given paper “doves.” As each person wrote a prayer intention on the dove, the symbols of the Holy Spirit were then displayed on a Pentecost banner.
At Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament in Newfield, an outdoor procession on the beautiful day provided the perfect opportunity for red-decked men, women, and children to remember the Spirit and our mission.
“The prayer ‘Come Holy Spirit’ became something we could see, hear and touch across the diocese this weekend as Catholic Leaders brought forward the first fruits of the Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in South Jersey,” said Donna M. Ottaviano-Britt, director of Missionary Discipleship for the Diocese of Camden.
She praised the work of pastors and convocation delegates, calling them “creative and collaborative, dedicating themselves to the mission Jesus gave the first century disciples, and to us today in the 21st century.”