By Dave Jolivet
MARTHA’S VINEYARD, Mass. — As people anxiously wait for the Coronavirus pandemic to peak and show signs of slowing down, no place is safe from the scourge. Not even the tiny islands off the coast of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. And while no location can escape the threat, no location across the Diocese of Fall River has buried its head in the sand either.
The Triduum is the most Sacred time of the year in the Catholic Church, and Holy Week 2020 was by far the most unique for most faithful from the Attleoboros to the tip of Cape Cod. With the Easter season in full swing, parishes throughout Southeastern Massachusetts have, like Christ, risen to the occasion, not leaving parishioners in the dark, but rather, shining the light of that Risen Christ for all to see in so many different and inspiring ways, despite the plethora of restrictions under which we all live.
The Anchor reached out to each of the diocese’s five deaneries for samples of what Holy Week was and the Easter season is like in different regions. This is just a sample of the many ways parishes are celebrating this Sacred season with their parishoners. To chronicle every event would take a Herculean effort, and The Anchor wishes to acknowledge all parishes and ministries that are transforming this Good Friday time in history into the Easter glory of the Resurrection for all.
Not forgotten by priests and diocesan volunters during this pandemic are the Spiritual and corporal needs of those whom they serve. On Martha’s Vineyard, Father Michael Nagle, pastor of Good Shepherd Parish, has three churches ministering to those on the island — Our Lady Star of the Sea, St. Augustine, and St. Elizabeth. Each of these churches are providing livestream services for all to see by visiting goodshepherdmv.com.
The Martha’s Vineyard Holy Week consisted of livestream Masses Monday through Wednesday at 8 a.m.; Holy Thursday Mass at 7 p.m.; a Good Friday service at 3 p.m.; and the celebration of Easter at 9 a.m. Parochial vicar and head of the Brazilian Ministry on the island, Father Edivar Ribeiro DaSilva, celebrated Mass in Portuguese on Holy Thursday and Easter and a Good Friday service.
The Good Shepherd community is also focusing on feeding the body as well as the soul under the watchful eye of parishioner Joe Capobianco, director of the parishbased Food Baskets-MV program created to help feed those in need. While most of us sheltering at home don’t worry about our next meal, those who are hungry and sheltering still have those worries and the Food Basket-MV program remains in operation for them.
Capobianco told The Anchor that the food distribution will continue “every Saturday in April from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 55 School Street in Oak Bluffs.” To keep everyone safe, the drivers are asked to remain in their cars with the windows closed and have their trunks open so the groceries can be placed there by the volunteers, many of whom are family members of Capobianco.
“On April 4 we distributed 480 bags of groceries to 204 cars,” said Capobianco. “We distribute fresh produce and frozen foods that we get from the Greater Boston Food Bank.” The distribution hours will be reassessed at the end of April.
On Nantucket, St. Mary-Our Lady of the Isle pastor Father John P. Kelleher and parochial vicar Father Carlos A. Patiño-Villa held livestreams for services on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil, and Easter Sunday; in English and Spanish.
Father Rodney Thibault is pastor of the newly-established Transfiguration of the Lord Parish in North Attleborough, which encompasses the churches of St. Mary, Sacred Heart and St. Mark. He and parochial vicar Father Jack Schrader held a full Holy Week schedule of events that was live-streamed on Facebook; daily Masses on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday along with Rosary and Eucharistic Adoration on Wednesday. They shared a live-stream Mass on Holy Thursday and on Good Friday offered parishioners and all faithful the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; the Passion of the Lord; and live Stations of the Cross. The Easter Vigil Mass and the Mass of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday we live-streamed as well. Recording of the Masses are still on the parish Facebook page.
The Catholic Community of Somerset and Swansea shared livestreams of the Sacred Triduum and Easter services on the websites of St. Louis de France Parish in Swansea, and St. Thomas More and St. Patrick’s parishes in Somerset.
The collaboration of Taunton Catholic Churches North live-streamed its Holy Week observances on YouTube. And they continue to offer the morning Mass, virtual Adoration, Rosary, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Holy Hours, and Bible Studies. Its website, cntaunton.org, offers visitors instrutions on how to download YouTube and take advantage of the daily Masses and other offerings.
Father Mike Racine recently took over the Whaling City Catholic Community which is made up of the parishes of St. Lawrence Martyr, St. Francis of Assisi and Holy Name of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He told The Anchor, “About two months ago I sat with representatives from all parishes in the collaborative: St. Lawrence, St. Francis of Assisi and Holy Name of the Sacred Heart and we talked Lent and Holy Week. Like in all parishes Lent started out with great attendance on Ash Wednesday. I said all the Masses so I could get to all three parishes and we had Stations of the Cross starting the following week at St. Francis. We were averaging more than 40 on a Wednesday evening and I was so happy.
“Holy Week we would move from one parish to another for the Triduim culminating at St. Lawrence for the Easter Vigil as we had a candidate for RCIA to receive the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation and Eucharist and I was going to baptize his son. We had 35 people signed up to visit the seven churches after Holy Thursday Mass. We even had a shuttle hired! That was going to be a nice Holy Thursday.
“Obviously with the changes and suspension of public Masses we had to rethink our plans. So we had all the Triduum at Holy Name on a scaled-back basis. But we did everything except the visits to the churches and the Sacraments. Our candidate for RCIA was prayed for at each of the Liturgies including Easter Sunday Morning Mass at St. Lawrence.
“At the end of the Easter Vigil I blessed and lit the paschal candles for St. Francis and St. Lawrence.”
To find daily livestream Masses or other parish events, visit The Anchor website at anchornews.org or visit the parish websites for times and Internet locations.