Parish priest Fr Christopher Lumsden was approached by a parishioner for his endorsement to light two pine trees at St Anthony’s RC Church, Petit Valley.
Before saying yes, he took a walk around the church yard and said to himself, not just two pine trees but all. Little did one expect that the simple request would have morphed into the beautiful, faith-filled experience.
Fr Christopher not only endorsed the lighting of all the trees but heeded the words of Archbishop Jason Gordon in his December 1 Catholic News weekly column, ‘Don’t rush Advent’.
The planning committee received approval on November 19, and decorations were completed on December 2 with the intention to light the trees with no fanfare on that evening. However, the timely publication of the Archbishop’s column caused them to stop and reflect.
Fr Christopher in his wisdom saw this as a faith and community building opportunity and postponed the lighting to December 15, the third week of Advent themed for Joy.
Fr Christopher used his homilies in the two weeks prior to the lighting to educate parishioners on why this period of waiting was so important as we prepared for the birth of Jesus Christ.
On December 15, the joy that filled the young people and all who attended the parish’s first tree lighting event was infectious. Altar servers, candidates in the First Communion and Confirmation classes, and other young people came out to support, serving and entertaining fellow parishioners.
The evening began with a church packed for Holy Mass, followed by the lighting of the trees. Entertained was provided by the First Communion and Confirmation candidates; a duet by Victoria Mohammed and Jean-Marc Acham, a young adult on the Parish Pastoral Council; and the Saturday evening Choir. Of course, the sharing of tasty treats all contributed to a wonderful evening.
Without the support of the many benefactors to whom thanks was given, the evening would not have happened.
On behalf of Fr Christopher, the youth of the parish thanked Fr Urban Hudlin OP, Deacons Derek Walcott and Mike Smith for supporting them. They also thanked all the young persons who came out, served and assisted in the clean-up.
The young people of St Anthony’s/Church of the Nativity Parish are prepared to live their Catholic faith and with the continued guidance of their clergy and parish leaders, they promise to make 2020 Advent and Christmas even more memorable. —Jean Marc-Acham