Between rosaries, a parish mission and Stations of the Cross, the Lenten season is in full swing at Schuyler Catholic Community.
For the first time, rosary recitation is being incorporated into all weekend Masses throughout Lent: a Saturday Mass at St. Benedict Church in Odessa and two Sunday liturgies at St. Mary of the Lake in Watkins Glen. According to Barbara Malina, the idea to add the rosaries stemmed from a Rosary for Life that she led on Jan. 21 to note the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling. She recalled that at the time, Father Austin Budnick, OFM — a longtime assisting priest in the Schuyler cluster — suggested doing a rosary each Sunday.
From there, Jackie Rondinaro — who, along with Malina, belongs to the United for Life Committee — made plans to implement rosaries during Lent. They, as well as weekly Stations of the Cross, fit in nicely with the cluster’s theme of spirituality and prayer that applied to its three-day parish mission Feb. 19-21.
Malina noted that Schuyler parishioners pray the rosary on weekdays throughout the year, and the Sunday rosaries could become a staple as well.
“We’ll see what happens. If we get a good response (during Lent), we’ll just continue it,” she said.
Numerous other parishes across the Southern Tier have filled their Lenten schedules with such events as lectures, study groups and meal gatherings:
* Many parish soup suppers took place in conjunction with Ash Wednesday services. St. Gabriel in Hammondsport not only held a supper, but also is continuing its Lenten tradition by taking part in a series of midday services and luncheons involving area churches of various denominations. Meanwhile, St. Mary’s Parish in Bath is hosting a spiritual-enrichment series that combines Stations of the Cross, Mass, community dinner, music and guest speakers/presentations on six different evenings; and Our Lady of Lourdes in Elmira is combining “Soup and Scripture” on Fridays at lunchtime, as well as breakfast and videos/discussions on Sunday mornings.
* Education, in multi-week sessions, is a popular activity: Deacon George Kozak is leading a course at St. Anthony Church in Groton focusing on the Gospel of Luke; a Scripture course is being offered through St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry at St. Catherine of Siena in Ithaca and Holy Cross in Dryden; a program on the Gospels is taking place at the parish center of St. Anthony’s Church in Elmira; and the Catholic Men’s Forum of Our Lady of the Valley Parish is holding theological gatherings at the Hornell Knights of Columbus hall.
* Small Christian communities are another form of gathering for reflection and Scripture study. St. Mary Our Mother Parish in Horseheads has six different communities active this Lent, and St. Catherine of Siena in Ithaca is adding two new groups this Lent. Sharing and reflecting through small Christian communities is “a wonderful opportunity to truly break open the word and bring it to life in our daily lives,” remarked Sister Mary O’Brien, CSJ, pastoral associate at St. Catherine. Meanwhile, the small Christian community at St. Gabriel’s in Hammondsport is featuring presentations about various books on spirituality during Lent.
* Disciples in Mission contains many elements of small Christian communities. The program is in its second year at Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick parishes in the Tioga County area, and its first year at Immaculate Conception in Ithaca. It is a three-year process marked, in part, by Lenten faith-sharing groups of eight to 10 people who study Sunday lectionary readings and relate them to everyday experiences.
* Youth involvement is conveyed through the Living Stations of the Cross at several parishes. Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick has an especially strong Living Stations tradition that goes back more than 30 years. The troupe is making a presentation each Friday evening during Lent, concluding on Good Friday, April 6, at 7:30 p.m. at St. Margaret Mary Church in Apalachin.
* Immaculate Conception in Ithaca is hosting a youth-related activity of a decidedly more lighthearted nature. Doug Brummel, a nationally recognized Catholic comedian/actor, will appear on Friday, March 30. Brummel’s presentation, “Lighten Up!” will be a fun yet inspiring look at family experiences and the Catholic faith.
Rich Rasmussen, Immaculate Conception’s youth minister, acknowledged that humor and lightheartedness “are not generally the expressions that many Catholics either express or identify with during Lent.” However, he said, “I believe that we can hold a sense of anticipation and joy during the Lenten season because of how the season ends — with Easter, the good news that Christ is risen. We can truly be repentant and joy-filled at the same time during Lent. Doug’s presentation will help us do both.”