March 4-10, 2004
By Kristen Fox / SUN Staff Writer
Parishes offer a number of ways for parishioners to grow spiritually during Lent
The season of Lent arrived on Feb. 25. The 40-day period leading up to Easter marks a time for soul-searching and repentance –– intensified prayer, works of charity and fasting are encouraged. Many Catholics show their love for Christ during this holy season by imitating His fasting and sacrificing during his 40 days in the desert. Some might give up a favorite treat; for others it might be a time for increased Mass attendance.
Lent is also a season when people enrich their spirituality through activities and special events with their parish communities St. Mary, Star of the Sea Church in Mexico will offer shared Stations of the Cross services with St. Anne’s Church in Parish. The services will be held on Fridays at 6:30 p.m. Deacon John Lee, from Sacred Heart Church in Utica, said that a cluster of churches in the Utica area will participate in the Living Stations of the Cross. Churches include St. Paul’s Church in Whitesboro, St. Anne’s Church in Whitesboro, St. Mary’s Church in New York Mills, St. Stephen’s Church in Oriskany and Our Lady of the Rosary Church in New Hartford. The Stations of the Cross will be held on Fridays at 7 p.m. at alternating churches. The purpose of parishes joining together to offer services is two-fold, explained Deacon John Lee.
“Offering the Stations of the Cross together gives pastors a break from doing a full schedule, although most pastors usually attend every service,” he said. “The services also give parishioners an opportunity to mingle with new parishioners who otherwise might not see each other.” Blessed Sacrament Church in Utica will hold a special living Stations of the Cross on March 12 at 7 p.m. The North County Players, a group of adults and young adults from Camden, will re-enact the stations.
Blessed Sacrament Church will also sponsor weekly prayer and discussion groups with St. Mary of Mount Carmel Parish in Utica. The sessions will be similar to the RENEW program, which divides participants into small faith-sharing groups to deepen their spirituality, said Father Robert Kelly, pastor of Blessed Sacrament.
While Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast and abstinence (minimal food, no meat, no eating between meals), the other Fridays of Lent are meatless. Because of this, many people will choose fish in place of meat during the Lenten season. This makes for plenty of parish fish fries. St. John’s Parish in Utica will offer parishioners a “Lenten Smorgasbord.” Each Friday, the church will hold a soup lunch following the 12:10 p.m. Mass. The church will also participate in weekly events with St. Mary’s Church and St. Francis de Sales Church, both in Utica, including Bible study classes for beginners, Scripture sharing groups and classes that explore the Twelve Apostles. The living Stations of the Cross will be held on March 27 at 7 p.m. at St. John’s Parish, presented by St. John’s youth group.
Some parishes will hold special Lenten missions for parishioners to grow closer to God during the Lenten season. St. Mary of the Assumption in Rome will host a special Lenten mission on March 13, 14, 15 and 16, presented by Father Michael Patrick Aloysius Flanagan, a priest from Florida. St. Stephen’s Church in Oswego will host a parish Lenten retreat by Father Gregory Golyzniak, former parochial vicar of St. Stephen’s. Father Golyzniak will present “Passion of the Lord” on March 27, 28, 29 and 30. The sacrament of Reconciliation will be offered on March 30 at 6 p.m. St. Stephen’s will also have Stations of the Cross each Friday at 7 p.m. During Lent, some parishes find ways to incorporate parish traditions into Lenten activities. On Feb. 24, Holy Trinity Church in Utica held a “Jelly Donut Ball.” The pre-Lenten Mardi Gras celebration was “Polish style.” The event featured traditional Polish foods, polka and games.
Father Mark Pasik, pastor of Transfiguration Church in Rome, said that each Wednesday his parish will host “Gorzkie Zale” (Bitter Lamentation). The para-liturgy includes singing of psalms from the Book of Lamentation, reflections and benediction in Polish. “We are a parish made up of many parishioners of Polish descent,” Father Pasik stated. He added that the para-liturgies give parishioners of Polish descent a chance to make a special connection with their heritage. “Placing one’s self in the passion of the Lord connects us to our ancestors,” said Father Pasik.
Transfiguration Church will also take part in a special Stations of the Cross with other Rome parishes, including St. Peter’s Church in Rome, St. Paul’s Church in Rome, St. John the Baptist Church in Rome, St. Mary pf the Assumption in Rome and St. Joseph church in Lee Center. The stations will take place at 7 p.m. at alternating churches.