Together again after months apart: A perspective

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AS CDC guidelines ease, Holy Name of Mary Parish in San Dimas, California re-opened its door to parishioners last Sunday, May 23 at masses held in various times.

It was held at the Feast of Pentecost, commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus. This represents the birth of early church. It marks the beginning of the Christian church’s mission to the world. People came in church with masks on, carefully led by ushers to their seats. Liturgical colors of red and orange dominated the altar.

As Music Director, Trevor Thompson played the music, “Holy Spirit, You are Welcome Here,” people stood with reverence and simply let the lyrics of the song sank in their heart while Vessel of Mary Liturgical Dance Ministry performed sacred movement. The dancers carried flags made of light organza which were waved gracefully, as if the wind blew gently at them.

As dancers moved with regulated steps towards the altar, HNM parishioner Bernadette Blackshaw observed that there were parishioners who had tears in their eyes. She said,“I really felt the Holy Spirit enkindling each one with the fire of His love. He was present in church. The people were happy to be back but also careful to be around others.”

At Spanish mass, parishioners filled the church with a great number of people. Liturgical dancer Agnes Puno Gonzalez commented, “What remained in mind and heart was the Down Syndrome special boy who gave me a “heart” and a thumbs up as we were seated at choir seats. He seemed to enjoy our dance and it spoke volume to me; that I made a difference at this Pentecost Mass.”

Sally Lim, Aura Puno, Grace Adajar, Estrel Yra, Josie Singh and Grace Ortiz are all members of the liturgical dance ministry who shared feelings of joy and compassion for those affected by the pandemic. They felt that being part of church’s celebration was a great experience. As Cora Soriano shared, ”Participating in the praise worship is an offering.”

People miss the personal interaction that was greatly restricted during pandemic and as vaccinations tick up and warmer weather approaches, there will be a readjustment of phasing normalcy back into our lives. “To see faces (behind masks), to hear people singing together, greeting each other awkwardly are better than not seeing anyone at all,” said Femy Losare, a parishioner who is a regular attendee of morning masses at HNM.

The isolation that people have experienced during pandemic have drawn many people in community, realizing now more than ever that they need God and God’s family to get them through this trying time. Many have a fresh appreciation and higher value on relationships. The words — “Holy Spirit, You are Welcome Here, Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere. Your glory God is what our hearts long for, to be overcome by your presence, Lord” — gave hope to many people who have experienced sorrow as well as joy in the months away from their loved ones. The celebration of Pentecost was meaningful at Holy Name of Mary Parish. It served as a reminder that we are all resilient and we can overcome challenges with His grace and forgiveness. (Contributed by Jo Solomonson)

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