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St. Vincent’s celebrates Easter

April 5, 2010

by Elizabeth Corey

ALBANY, N.Y. – The congregation that filled the Church of St. Vincent de Paul was reminded by Reverend Richard Vosko on Holy Saturday that “no one is distant from the light of our church, and all are welcome.

“On this day, the Catholic church’s holiest day of the year, it is important to remember that this Easter Vigil is a true celebration,” he said.  “If there’s any day that is the birthday of the church, it’s this evening.”

The Church’s 8 p.m. Easter Vigil service began with the Service of Light, a ceremony performed on the front steps of the building.  Parishioners stood on the front lawn around a bonfire as Vosko blessed and lit a Paschal candle.  In Roman Catholic tradition, a new Paschal candle is blessed and lit every year at Easter and used throughout the year on special occasions, such as funerals and baptisms.  Individuals in attendance then lit a small, white taper candle from the fire and carried it with them.

Vosko, co-presiding with Deacon Ed Solomon and Betsy Rowe-Manning, Parish Life Director, led the congregation inside to begin the Liturgy of the Word.  This portion of the service consisted of seven readings from the Old Testament, from the books of Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, Baruch, and Ezekiel.

This portion of the mass was accompanied by responsorial hymns, based on texts from the readings.  Jenny Gorman, a freshman at The College of Saint Rose, was a member of the choir singing at the service.  She said that the choir had spent an increased amount of time preparing for Holy Week, and the Easter Vigil in particular.

“The choir is a little larger than usual tonight because all of our members are together in one place,” Gorman said.  “We added some extra rehearsals to our regular Tuesday night rehearsals and there have been even more rehearsals for people singing solos.”

Gorman was one of many soloists featured during the Saturday service.  She sang during the Litany of the Saints, a prayer that calls upon Christian martyrs and saints, and gestured for the congregation to respond with the words, “pray for us.”

The Litany of the Saints accompanied the baptism of Cain Marion, a Troy resident, and two members of the church who were receiving the sacrament of confirmation.

After the baptism and confirmations, the remainder of the Holy Saturday mass followed the regular pattern of a Catholic mass.  The one difference: a post-service party in the church’s hall to celebrate the congregation members receiving sacraments for the first time.

Over cake, punch, and jellybeans, Betsey O’Toole, said that she “loved the Easter Vigil.”

“I like the part of the mass where we lit all the candles,” O’Toole said.  “It’s a part of the service that’s different than what we usually do.  It’s also pretty seeing the lights off in the church and everyone holding their candles.”

Betsey and her father, Andy O’Toole, Albany residents from the Pine Hills neighborhood, agreed that the service, which ran about three hours, was “kind of long,” but that the length was to be expected at an Easter Vigil.

“Tonight’s service was definitely a long one,” Andy said. “However, the service is sometimes done with 13 readings, and we only had seven tonight.  We got the abridged version.”

As the celebration continued, parishioners chatted with each other about their plans for Easter. O’Toole said,   “We’re a very welcoming parish and it draws a lot of people in.” -30-

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