Written by: Denise Serafini on Tuesday, March 08, 2016
Those are the only words Father Phil could use to describe what he felt about the event we had at St. Rita’s Church in Hamden on March 3rd. The church is very large and has an unusually large sacristy that allowed for all eight of our backdrops to be used. I think the scope of our setup was a little more than Father Phil was expecting at first but he picked up on the process and supported us with reading of the prayers during the meditations. He read them in such an affecting way that I'm sure his prayers were heard that the Father might reach out to all with His Mercy. We are indeed thankful to him for allowing us to share "Relics of the Passion" at St. Rita's.
Similar to the connection we felt with St. John Vianney when we presented in the church named in his honor in West Haven, it was fitting to present in this church since St. Rita of Cascia, the patron saint for this church, received the mark of the thorn on her forehead on Good Friday.
More than 500 people were in attendance and I noticed a number of members from religious orders had joined us. If people are thinking that the religious orders are a thing of the past, I would suggest they take a closer look. These women, Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Sisters of Santa Croce (Holy Cross), Franciscan Sisters, are still with us, many still in their younger years, teaching our children, caring for the sick and elderly and praying for us. We need them and their wisdom as part of the very fabric of our society and I would suggest that we all encourage vocations to the religious life.
Individuals came up to us with their words of thanks but the comments were significant. We heard people say things like, “I’ve never seen anything like this before” but more touching were the number of people that said “I feel like I was immersed in the Passion”, and “This prayer event is something I will remember for a lifetime”. Feedback and kind words such as these are the thing that gives us the perseverance to continue in our efforts to bring this program across the country. The reverence and spirituality of the participants are a testament to the level of teaching and service provided by the pastoral staff. They are to be commended for maintaining a parish that reflects the solid and consistent Catholic teaching that was reflected in their participation in the program and reverence for relics during veneration. I do believe that many of the attendees will use the presentation as a tool for their personal encounter with the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ during this Lenten Season.
We also had the absolute best of supporting resources in the Knights of Columbus council and 4th Degree Color Guard that sponsored this event. They took on the tasks of providing the ceremonial element in the processional, they did the readings, and all were involved in the holding the relics for veneration. These fine examples of Catholic manhood always know how to treat these precious artifacts with the respect and honor they deserve. And I’m sure God will confer special blessings on those great knights that helped us to repack the car, never a small task. We extend our heartfelt thanks to them all.