• A bonfire roars outside as parishioners of St. Lucy Church in Retsof head insideto celebrate the feast day of St. Lucy during a special Mass and reception at the parish Dec. 13.
    A bonfire roars outside as parishioners of St. Lucy Church in Retsof head insideto celebrate the feast day of St. Lucy during a special Mass and reception at the parish Dec. 13.

Mass honors St. Lucy

By Courtney A. Burns / Catholic Courier    |    01.06.2006
Category: Southern Tier


RETSOF -- Parishioners of St. Lucy Church braved the cool temperatures and windy weather to pay homage to their parish's namesake during a Dec. 13 Mass and reception.

Candles led parishioners up the long driveway toward the church, where a small bonfire was lit for the occasion. Candles, in the windows and on the altar, illuminated the church's interior.

The themes of vision and light were interwoven throughout the homily of Father Joseph Marcoux, parochial vicar. Beginning at the front of the church, candles held by each parishioner were lit until the light reached those in the back.

"Look at how much light we create just with those little candles," Father Marcoux observed.

Father Marcoux then told the story of St. Lucy, noting that she was born to rich and noble parents in Sicily around the year 283. After her father died, Lucy and her mother went on a pilgrimage in the year 303 to see the place where St. Agatha had been executed 52 years earlier.

"(While on the pilgrimage) Lucy persuaded her mother to give riches to the poor, and that angered the man to which she was betrothed," Father Marcoux explained.

Lucy's fiance was so angry that he denounced her as a Christian to the authorities, Father Marcoux said. She was sentenced to become a prostitute in a brothel, but God rendered her immovable so she couldn't be taken away. She was then executed by sword. In some versions of Lucy's story, her eyes were plucked out, but God restored her sight, Father Marcoux said.

"What I find striking is that she was supposed to be dragged away and she stood her ground and she could not be moved," he said.

Father Marcoux noted that her strength and the story of her unmovable faith is what she gives to people today.

"The real lesson is to find out what God has in mind for you and then be unmovable in it," he said.

Father Marcoux encouraged those in attendance to have the same courage of conviction in whatever they do.

"Whatever you are called to, embrace it," he said. "Then your light will shine, or Christ's light through you."

In July Father Marcoux and Father Patrick Conner, pastor, began celebrating feast-day Masses for each of the five parishes they serve -- St. Lucy; St. Thomas Aquinas in Leicester; Holy Angels in Nunda; St. Patrick in Mt. Morris; and St. Mary in Geneseo. Father Marcoux said the feasts are a way for each church to celebrate its individual identity with incense, smoke, lights and food.

For example, after the Mass at St. Lucy, parishioners took home cuccia, a traditional Sicilian dish that is made specially for St. Lucy's feast day. During a reception at the church, parishioners also enjoyed coffee and ginger snaps, a Swedish tradition associated with St. Lucy.

Jean Lentner attended the Mass and reception with her husband, Joe.

"I've heard different versions of it (St. Lucy's story)," she said. "It teaches us a lesson."

She added that she enjoyed the fact that people from some of the other local parishes had come to either participate in the Mass or prepare the food for it.

"It makes us universal," she said.

Mary Vazquez attended the Mass and reception with her two daughters, Lydia, 13, and Julia, 11.

"I think it's good to have examples," Vazquez said. "We think that we go through a lot, but (martyrs) really did."

Vazquez said she enjoyed having her daughters attend the Mass with her and hopes to tell them more stories about saints and martyrs.

 

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