By Joelle Zarnowski
Liverpool Catholic Community Communications Coordinator

The Advent season is a time to prepare our hearts and minds for our Lord Jesus Christ’s birth at Christmas. This time of joyful hope is celebrated in many different ways, from decorating our homes and lighting the candles on our Advent wreaths to reading daily Scripture and Advent reflections. However we choose to spend this time, Advent presents us all with an opportunity to step away from the busyness of the holiday season and spend some time with Jesus.

The Liverpool Catholic Community, a Pastoral Care Area (PCA) composed of Epiphany Parish and The Linked Parishes of Christ the King and Pope John XXIII, offered their community a unique opportunity to come together in their journey with a three-day Advent Mission: Journey Together with Prayer, Poetry and Song. Each event provided participants time to reflect on their relationship with Jesus, guided by different presenters at each parish in the PCA.

The first evening was hosted by Christ the King Church, located in the Bayberry Community in Liverpool, with presenter and singer/songwriter Denny Giantomasi. During his presentation, Giantomasi led attendees in prayer and song as he shared with them the real presence of Christ at Christmas. A common theme throughout the mission, he spoke of giving your “yes” to Jesus and “being all in” for him.

On the second day, Epiphany Parish hosted a luncheon and an evening program with Sister Laura Bufano as the presenter for both. During their time with Sister Laura, attendees were invited to pray through poetry and song and ask themselves, “What are my hopes for this Advent?” In one of the poems shared with attendees titled “A Christmas Carol Patchwork Quilt,” Sister Laura writes, “In excelsis gloria! The wonders of his love, tidings of comfort and joy. Come kneel before the radiant boy, for the face of God in Jesus, as come to shine in every heart, the king of love and light.”

Bishop Douglas J. Lucia served as the principal celebrant and homilist for the liturgy.

The three-day mission culminated with the first combined Mass for the Liverpool Catholic Community, the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception, hosted by Pope John XXIII parish. Music was provided by Jeremy Bobak; Bishop Douglas J. Lucia was the principal celebrant. During his homily, Bishop Lucia spoke of the importance of Mary’s openness to God and her acceptance of the gift of his Son:

“Just as Mary’s ‘yes’ was important, her openness to being God’s gift in the world, so it is with us,” Bishop Lucia said. “More than ever, what we realize about our discipleship today is that if our world is going to see the face of God, if our world is going to know Jesus Christ, it’s not just by ordaining more priests and deacons and bishops. What’s really at its heart is what Mary did. And that is saying ‘yes’ to God in life and opening our lives to God so that God can become flesh and dwell among us.”

As the Liverpool Catholic Community continues their journey together through Advent and into the Christmas season, we are reminded that God is present in our lives and will make his presence known to us so long as we remain open to him and his love for us. As Bishop Lucia said in his homily, “We, like Mary, are God’s gift.”

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