Solar eclipse in Rochester Diocese sparks awe - Catholic Courier

Solar eclipse in Rochester Diocese sparks awe

PITTSFORD — “Oh, this is wild,” whispered Sister Sue Hoffman, SSJ. “This is amazing.”

Around her, comments ranged from “Isn’t that something?” to “You wouldn’t believe it unless you were here.”

These marked some of the reactions — along with several “oohs” and “aahs” — from observers at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse grounds April 8. There, they watched the sky go completely dark between approximately 3:20 and 3:23 p.m., the period of “totality” when the moon passed directly between the earth and the sun.

Even though cloudy skies resulted in limited visibility of the sun and moon, awe and excitement remained in ample supply as the Rochester/Finger Lakes area experienced its first total solar eclipse in 99 years — and the last for another 120 years.

Eclipse draws many to Rochester/Finger Lakes area

The Sisters of St. Joseph served on a coalition of local ambassadors for the historic occurrence. The order’s motherhouse was one of several spots in the East Avenue-French Road vicinity to stage eclipse events; others were St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry as well as Nazareth University and St. John Fisher University.

As the hours until totality wound down in the early afternoon, activities ramped up. St. Bernard’s presented an eclipse program featuring adoration and lunch; many groups of Nazareth University students gathered on blankets in front of Linehan Chapel; and the commons area at St. John Fisher was filled with young adults munching on pizza, playing cornhole, tossing Frisbees and enjoying a bonfire.

In keeping with a sky-related theme, Sisters of St. Joseph volunteers passed out treat bags at the motherhouse containing Milky Way and Starburst candies as well as Sun Chips. Meanwhile, at Nazareth, such songs as “Bad Moon Rising” and “Sunglasses at Night” blared across campus. Both those venues, along with St. John Fisher, offered such items as protective eclipse glasses and camera-lens filters along with food, music, crafts and giveaways.

These were among many local celebrations attended by area residents as well as many out-of-towners. Eclipse excitement ran particularly high in western New York, since Rochester and the Finger Lakes were among a small portion of the U.S. to be in the 115-mile-wide path of totality.

Nun considers Rochester-area eclipse a major historical event

A partial eclipse began in Pittsford just after 2 p.m., although it was difficult to detect due to heavy cloud cover. Yet there was no mistaking the total eclipse an hour later, as a rapidly darkening sky caused birds to stop chirping, the temperature to drop a few degrees, and street and parking-lot lights to automatically turn on.

“I guess I didn’t think it was going to get that dark,” remarked Sister Elaine Hollis, SSJ, who served as an eclipse ambassador April 8.

By 3:30 p.m., light had begun to return to the sky. At that point — even though the eclipse would last partially until just past 4:30 — festivities were all but over because of the clouds. At Nazareth, for instance, the yard that had been filled with students just 30 minutes earlier was virtually deserted; the only signs of a large gathering were overflowing garbage receptacles.

Despite the less-than-hoped-for visibility, Sister Hollis was still captivated by the eclipse, saying she and others who experienced totality will remember it for many years to come, just as they would other major historical events. She added that the stunning spectacle of daytime darkness served as a profound reminder of the wonder of God’s creation.

“This is an event that brings us to this understanding that something deeper is going on, if we open our eyes to it,” Sister Hollis said.

Tags: 2024 Eclipse
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