April Marks Conferences for Ministry "On the Move"
At a time when the threat of war and terrorist activity is heightened, when increasing numbers people are "on the move" and feeling more vulnerable, the Catholic ministries of the maritime "Apostleship of the Sea" (AOS) and airport chaplaincy movement seem more important than ever. Throughout the United States and throughout the world, dioceses assign a chaplain (a priest, deacon, religious or lay person) to serve seafarers and air travelers in unique ministries detached from the local parish. In April the annual meeting of the Apostleship of the Sea will take place at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Great Neck Long Island, April 1-4, and that of the National Conference of Catholic Airport Chaplains is in Pittsburgh April 29-May 2. "Through these unique ministries the church has a presence for workers and travelers at just the times when they feel separation from the familiar and comfortable," says Rev. John Jamnicky, Coordinator for Human Mobility Apostolates, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. "The bishops" concern for the migration of peoples extends not just to those within our diocesan boundaries, but also to those who navigate the air and the seas, for whatever reason, particularly in troubled times like these."
Rev. John A. Jamnicky is available at 202/541-3226 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Catholics to Observe/Contribute to Home Missions
The Catholic Home Missions Appeal will be taken up in most dioceses on the April 26-27 weekend. "Money donated to this annual collection helps strengthen the Catholic Church within the United States and its dependencies," says David Byers, Executive Director, Secretariat for the Home Missions. "It might fund an evangelization program in Georgia, a religious education program on the Mexican border, training for lay ministers in Wyoming, or a struggling parish in the Virgin Islands -- "Home" missions are simply the way of designating projects in or near our borders while staying equally committed to mission work in foreign lands."
David Byers is available at 202/541-3011 (email@example.com).
Easter Triduum Celebrating Redemption in Christ
The Easter Triduum, (April 17-19) the culmination of the entire liturgical year, is the most important time of the church calendar. Recalling the events of these days, our mediation is marked by sorrow and joy as we dwell on the mystery of or redemption and the gift of eternal life. The observance begins with the Mass of the Lord's Supper on the night April 17, Holy Thursday, which marks Jesus' last supper with his friends, the washing of the apostles' feet and the institution of the Eucharist "in remembrance of me." Good Friday is a day of fasting and mourning, focused on the Passion of Jesus and the adoration of the Cross but always within the context of the Resurrection. The Easter Vigil marks the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and ranks as the "mother of all vigils." It is marked by the lighting of the new fire and the blessing of the Paschal Candle, the proclamation of the great stories of our redemption, and culminates in the celebration of the initiation sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist, with the use of water and holy oils. "There is a wealth of important symbolism within the Easter Triduum," says Sister Doris Turek, Staff Advisor, USCCB Secretariat for the Liturgy.
While the ritual observances remain the same, there are also cultural celebrations of various ethnic groups associated with the observance of these days. For example on the Thursday of the Triduum, following the Eucharistic Liturgy, members of the Polish, Slovak and Hispanic communities, among others, often visit several nearby churches to continue the Eucharistic adoration. On Good Friday, especially in the Hispanic community, there is a traditional procession of the Stations of the Cross through the streets of the parish to focus on the Lord's passion and death. On Saturday of the Triduum, the blessing of baskets of the food which will be served at the family's Easter meal, an Eastern European custom, often extends to the entire parish community. "All of these celebrations are connected to the theme of the Triduum," says Sister Turek, "Christ's dying and rising again, which is key to our faith."
Sister Doris Turek is available at 202/541-3476 (firstname.lastname@example.org).