Local Catholics ring in Easter with reverence, joy

Fr. John Riccardo baptizes a new Catholic as the faithful look on at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Plymouth during the Easter Vigil. (Dan Meloy | The Michigan Catholic)

Fr. John Riccardo baptizes a new Catholic as the faithful look on at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Plymouth during the Easter Vigil. (Dan Meloy | The Michigan Catholic)

METRO DETROIT — Across the Archdiocese of Detroit, Catholics marked the culmination of Holy Week and the arrival of Easter with solemn services and joyful celebrations to announce the resurrection of Christ.

Chrism Mass

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron breathes into the sacred Chrism oil during the annual Chrism Mass at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament on March 24, Holy Thursday morning. (Photos by Mike Stechschulte, The Michigan Catholic)

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron breathes into the sacred Chrism oil during the annual Chrism Mass at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament on March 24, Holy Thursday morning. (Photos by Mike Stechschulte, The Michigan Catholic)

At the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron presided over Holy Thursday services, including the Chrism Mass and Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

As priests squeezed into any pew that wasn’t taken, Archbishop Vigneron issued another strong call to evangelize Holy Thursday morning during the annual Chrism Mass.

More than 150 priests, dozens of deacons and hundreds of lay faithful attended the solemn Mass at the cathedral as the archbishop blessed the oil of the sick, the oil of catechumens and the sacred Chrism for use in parishes across the Archdiocese of Detroit in the coming year.

During his homily, the archbishop said the Holy Spirit has given the Church power to “unleash the Gospel in southeast Michigan,” referencing his oft-repeated rallying cry about the need for evangelization.

The archbishop acknowledged that he, too, can often fall into a routine — “I like to call it a ‘structured kerygma,’” he joked — but said God has sent the Holy Spirit to give the Church “new energy.”

“We can’t be sleepy and bored,” he said. “We can’t simply carry on in a mere routine. No one of us can. God can’t afford to let any one of us be sleepy about the Gospel. It’s not normal.”

Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Fr. Aaron Smith, LC, washes the feet of parishioners at St. Daniel Parish in Clarkston during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening. (Mike Stechschulte | The Michigan Catholic)

Fr. Aaron Smith, LC, washes the feet of parishioners at St. Daniel Parish in Clarkston during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening. (Mike Stechschulte | The Michigan Catholic)

Later that night, at the cathedral and at parishes across the archdiocese, Archbishop Vigneron and parish priests washed parishioners’ feet as part of the ritual of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

The gesture harkens back to the Last Supper, when Jesus washed the feet of his apostles before sharing in the Passover meal.
Fr. Dan Jones, who gave the homily at the cathedral, said Jesus washing his disciples’ feet serves as a precursor for what he did for them, and all of humanity, the following day when he suffered and died for the world’s sins on Good Friday.

“As Jesus bends low to serve us, what’s his disposition?” Fr. Jones asked. “God is love, so God’s supreme joy is to give Himself to suffering for us. It’s Jesus’ joy to serve us. That was his vindication.”

At St. Daniel Parish in Clarkston, Fr. Aaron Smith, LC, said the twin sacraments of the priesthood and Eucharist, which Jesus instituted on Holy Thursday night, were signs of Jesus’ tangible love for his people.

“His love is real, and it’s humble. And in the form of bread and wine, it’s simple,” Fr. Smith said. “A priest is called to give that love, a personal love, the same love of Jesus Christ.”

Good Friday

A man nails “exploitation” to the cross before Good Friday services at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Detroit. (Mike Stechschulte | The Michigan Catholic)

A man nails “exploitation” to the cross before Good Friday services at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Detroit. (Mike Stechschulte | The Michigan Catholic)

On Good Friday, Catholics adopted a somber tone as many attended services on the only day of the year when Mass isn’t celebrated.

At Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Detroit and St. Mary Parish in Royal Oak, parishioners came for Stations of the Cross, the reading of the Passion and veneration of the cross between the hours of noon and 3 p.m.

At Our Lady of the Rosary, parishioners symbolically nailed various sufferings, such as “hatred,” “hunger” or “loneliness” to the cross as the stations were presented.

During the morning, young people, many from Everest Collegiate High School in Clarkston, took up five heavy wooden crosses and walked from different parts of downtown Detroit, meeting in Campus Martius Park around noon. Along the way, the teens collected prayer requests from anyone they met and nailed them to the cross.

More than two dozen young people finished a "cross walk" through Detroit on Good Friday, ending in Campus Martius Park. The students collected prayer intentions from passersby as they went, nailing them to the crosses. (Mike Stechschulte | The Michigan Catholic)

More than two dozen young people finished a “cross walk” through Detroit on Good Friday, ending in Campus Martius Park. The students collected prayer intentions from passersby as they went, nailing them to the crosses. (Mike Stechschulte | The Michigan Catholic)

Yvonne Fontaine, a Regnum Christi consecrated woman who helped organize the “Holy Week mission,” said the students were spending several days downtown ministering in different ways.

After the cross walk, the students were going to help make blankets for cancer patients, Fontaine said. On Holy Saturday, the students volunteered at various Detroit homeless shelters.

“We’re very excited about all these different projects to really help serve others in the community, but also to give the love of Christ in action during Holy Week,” Fontaine said.

Easter Sunday

Missionaries Sisters of Charity hold candles during the Easter Vigil at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament. (Joe Kohn | Archdiocese of Detroit)

Missionaries Sisters of Charity hold candles during the Easter Vigil at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament. (Joe Kohn | Archdiocese of Detroit)

With the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament packed full, Archbishop Vigneron reminded the congregation they were not celebrating something that occurred 2,000 years ago, but that very night.

During the candle-lit Easter Vigil, when Christians around the world commemorate when Jesus rose from the dead, Archbishop Vigneron reminded the faithful that Christ’s resurrection is still present.

“The Exultet that the deacon sang makes this point very clear,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “You remember, he sang ‘This is the night when Christ broke the prison bars of death and rose victorious from the underworld’ — not that was the night. This is the night of the Father’s grace, a truly blessed night.”

Pastors around the archdiocese administered the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist for the first time to hundreds of new Catholics entering the local Church this Easter.

The archbishop recounted the readings from the Easter Vigil, from Genesis to Ezekiel, chronicling the story of God’s chosen people and the promise of the messiah who would conquer sin and death.

“We heard about the first reading, the accounts of the creation of the world by God — that was a promise,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “A promise about this night. Because it says in book of Genesis that God rested on the seventh day. And that resting reached its fulfillment and its truth when Jesus was resting in the tomb on the seventh day. And on the eighth day, on this night, God rose from the dead and began to remake the world even better than when he looked at it and saw that it was good.”