Adoration brings parish unity in Falls Church

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Tiki torches, candles, flashlights and cellphones held by the Hispanic community guided English-speaking parishioners of St. James Church in Falls Church from Holy Thursday Mass to adoration April 13.

Holy Week puts a logistical strain on parishes, especially those serving both English and Spanish-speaking communities. The Arlington Diocese offers Mass in Spanish in 36 parishes. At St. James, Holy Thursday Mass is celebrated in English in the church, and in Spanish in the school gym. For nearly a decade, the two communities have joined for adoration following their Masses without much interaction, but that’s changing.

"It's dark and all I see while carrying Our Lord in the procession is one group of people, united for the sole purpose of welcoming Jesus into their midst." Fr. Patrick L. Posey, pastor of St. James Church in Falls Church

Previously, the Hispanic community had waited in the church parking lot until the English-speaking Mass concluded and the Eucharist was brought to Heller Hall. 

According to Kelvin Saravia, administrative assistant of the diocesan Spanish Apostolate and a parishioner of St. James, the Hispanic community organized a path for the Eucharistic procession in 2013, under the direction of Father José E. Hoyos, director of the Spanish Apostolate, who wanted to surprise Father Patrick L. Posey, pastor of St. James.

When Father Posey and the parishioners exited the church to begin the Eucharistic procession, they were greeted by Hispanic parishioners, who stood in two lines to create an aisle for the parishioners to walk through. The response was so positive that it became a tradition.

“Then the next time, we did it with the lights,” said Teresa Matos, Hispanic coordinator at St. James.
In the second year, parishioners lit the path of the procession with candles, but flashlights and cellphones are encouraged now. This year, Tiki torches were included at the request of Father Posey.

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“It’s dark and all I see while carrying Our Lord in the procession is one group of people, united for the sole purpose of welcoming Jesus into their midst,” said Father Posey. 

Both Masses are packed each year with an estimated 1,000 in attendance. Father Posey said he’s made it a priority to involve Hispanic parishioners in the parish, and attendance and participation has grown.

“We get 20 new (registered parishioners) a month,” he said. “I’m noticing distinctly that our Hispanic community is joining for those Masses. Now I’m seeing a mixture of the community during the weekday.”

Father Posey said the Hispanic community brings a “great joy of life” to the parish. “With this hectic and fast-paced life, I love that the community celebrates together,” he said. 

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017

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