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World AIDS Day Interfaith Prayer Service | 2016
Our Lady of Lourdes once again commemorated World AIDS Day on December 1st with an interfaith prayer service. World AIDS Day is used to unite people in the fight against HIV to show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate those who have died. Thank you to everyone who joined us to spend time together in honor and memoriam…and a special thank you to the clergy and community leaders who joined us to bring joy and hope to others through their love and commitment to our brothers and sisters in our community.
Interfaith Thanksgiving Service | 2016
It was another amazing Interfaith Thanksgiving Service at Lourdes! Thanks so much to everyone who came out to join us for this incredibly important evening of solidarity in our community…especially during this time in our world and in a very busy week! We’d like to extend a special thank you to the clergy and faith leaders in our community who continue to join us year after year at our various interfaith events to help us promote love and peace in our world. And a special shout out to our amazing Setup, Welcome, Kitchen, and Cleaning Teams who made this beautiful evening happen! WE ARE SO GRATEFUL FOR ALL OF YOU! (Photography by Adam Wilson.)
All Souls Servie | 2016
Gone….but not forgotten. It was another beautiful All Souls Day at Lourdes. Dim lighting, framed pictures of the deceased from our community around the sanctuary, candles around the church, and a quiet, reflective mood among the congregation marked the beginning of the All Souls Service at Our Lady of Lourdes on Wednesday, November 2. Following the entrance music, Fr. Phil opened the service with a prayer about the changes in our lives brought about by the loss of parents, spouses and partners, siblings, other relatives and friends, which set the mood for this service of remembrance and healing. The service contained some elements of the Mass – a New Testament Reading, Responsorial Psalm, Gospel Reading and Homily. Fr. Phil preached about loss and grief and our belief that those whom we have loved, have gone before us into the presence of God rather than they are lost to us. Since God is everywhere, our departed loved ones are everywhere – which means that they are here with us. As he ended his homily of consolation and hope, Fr. Phil invited those who had lost loved ones to speak their names. His invitation started a solemn procession composed of the majority of people at the service, who went to the front of the church to announce the names of their departed loved ones. After proclaiming the names, participants wrote the names on pages that will be part of the Book of the Dead. Each was handed a candle, which they placed on the altar around the framed pictures of our deceased community members. The final part of the service consisted of a slide show containing pictures and the names of all the deceased who were being specifically remembered this evening. As pictures appeared on the screen, people throughout the church reacted to those of the ones they knew and loved. Some people smiled; others wiped away tears; all were touched. After the service, many people turned to neighbors to ask, “Who was your loved one?” They often shared brief stories and memories with each other, while holding hands and connecting through one of the most profound human experiences in all of our lives. Following the celebration of life, the parish hosted a reception, which included grief counsellors for any who wished to speak to them, members from our Seasons of Hope Grief Support group (which meets every Wednesday evening in our Cafe Living Room), as well as members of our Widows and Widowers Connection life group who were there to invite everyone to their upcoming gatherings. Some people attended the reception, while others quietly filed out. It was a beautiful ceremony where those left behind could say a final farewell to their departed loved ones—and where everyone could leave with a feeling of peace through being connected to both others physically present who were also grieving and to their loved ones who still live in the presence of God. (Written by Anne Casey. Photography by Adam Wilson.)
Fall Festivals | 2016
The first annual Fall Festival in support of Lourdes Academy was a resounding success! Children of all ages wearing all sorts of clever costumes sauntered through the grounds of Lourdes Academy and Church on Friday, October 28, taking in the sights and enjoying themselves. Volunteers from the school parent association and the parish, many in costumes of their own, cheerfully provided entertainment, food and fun to the crowds of visitors. A big draw of the night was Trunk or Treat in the church parking lot. Dozens of cars lined up vying with each other for the best decorations. Children visited the cars for the hour before Trunk or Treat began, excited by the decorations and having their pictures taken in front of many of the trunks. The parking lot was filled with cars belonging to witches, Tigger, Charlie Brown, scarecrows, and the first-prize winning Snow Queen theme, among others. While most of the car owners were parishioners or parents of Lourdes Academy students, Trunk or Treat attracted the attention of Glen and Stephanie, friends of parishioners, who have had so much fun at other Trunk or Treat events, they signed up for Lourdes’ event. (And maybe they like showing off their bright green Mustang too!) Everywhere you looked, the church and school had the feeling of a party at one of the attractions. The Café turned into a beer garden for adults with a blazing bonfire in the courtyard. The covered patio was transformed into a movie theater complete with popcorn. Costumed children played and shrieked with delight at the fun things around every corner and many of the adults, also in costume, posed for pictures, like Terre the Italian witch, who does not put curses on people, she only guilts them! As the night drew to a close, everyone was hoping that this was the first in a long line of annual Lourdes Academy and Church Fall Festivals! (Written by Anne Casey. Photography by Adam Wilson.)
Pet Blessing | 2016
A Lot of Dogs, a Few Cats, a Bird, a Pig and Five Lion Head Bunnies. At first the animals were few in number but as the time got closer to 11:00 am on Saturday, October 1, 2016, the area set up for the Blessing of the Pets filled with the joyous sounds of barking dogs and happy human companions. The ceremony consisted of songs, readings from Scripture, a homily, and Intercessions, after which Fr. Phil blessed each of the animals, who waited patiently with their humans to go up individually. In his homily, Fr. Phil spoke about how physical manifestations of love are ways we make real and visible the love of God and God’s presence in our lives. “God created our pets. They are part of God’s vision,” he said. Fr. Phil added that by blessing our pets we are reminded that God is present with us in our pets. The ceremony was very moving and although there were a small number of restless dogs, most of the animals were calm and quiet during it. Some of the many people at the Blessing spoke about how important this annual event is in their lives. Ray, who lives on the border of St. Augustine and Palm Coast, comes every year with Regina, who is part toy Italian greyhound and part Chihuahua. Regina is a nine-year old rescue dog, who loves people. Anita accompanied her two dogs, Melody, a Chihuahua and Jack Russel terrier mix, and Max, a Yorkshire terrier. Both Melody and Max were excited and seemed to want to play with the children in attendance. Barbara said that she and Border collie, Tara, come to the Blessing every year. Stacy accompanied Augustine (or Augie) a rescue Schnoodle, who showed off his fine manners. Two sets of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels attracted attention with their beautiful coats. Sadie and Rylee, accompanied by Anne and Jane, have lighter, cream-colored coats, while Charlie and Emma, who were there with Anthony, are black and tan. Tony and Elizabeth were there with Hazel Grace, while Bill and Charlie accompanied Bubba, a red nose pit bull, who was very interested in everything. Faith was a very calm Tabby Kitty with Tilly and Cocoa Puff, a rescue kitten, came with Kelly and Seth. Dixie, a heeler with one white eye, adopted David and his son when they were on a skiing trip to Gatlinburg several years ago. Taking a break from skiing, they wandered into the local Humane Society and saw Dixie, “the only one not going crazy.” Dixie was invited to live with the family to be a companion for David’s Mom and she still sleeps in Grandma’s bed every night. She almost did not make it to Florida. First she had heartworm and then the family was having difficulty going to get her. So, someone from the Humane Society in Gatlinburg rented a car and drove her here. Dixie is a sweet dog, clearly loved by her family. Penelope, the pig, was there with Jessyca. Penelope is very smart and does a lot of tricks. She was wagging her tail, which meant she was happy. (When she is excited, her tail stands straight up!). Penelope’s pet sibling, Malibu, a Jack Russel terrier/dachshund mix, was also at the Blessing. Waneira and her daughter, Taineira, also came for the Blessing with their five lion-head bunnies, Nane, Cindy, Bumblebibi, Truper, and Joey. When they opened the cages and took the bunnies out, they were surrounded by everyone who wanted to see and touch the beautiful pets. The 2016 Blessing of the Pets was a joyful event followed by hotdogs and a picnic lunch. People were happy and animals seemed to demonstrate God’s presence in them. On a personal note, I attended to take notes for this article and was not expecting to feel anything stronger than the interest I take in all of the Lourdes community activities. I grew up afraid of dogs and cats in a neighborhood with no pets. I have overcome my fear and lived happily with the pets of roommates over the years, but never with any of my own. So, having never thought of myself as an “animal person”, I was surprised and overcome with how much I enjoyed meeting the pets and learning about them from their humans. I left that day feeling at peace and content and understanding I had witnessed the love of God in the presence of the Lourdes pet community. (Written by Anne Casey; photographs by Adam Wilson.)
Back to Church Sunday Weekend | 2016
SO. MUCH. LOVE. For the fourth consecutive year, Our Lady of Lourdes successfully celebrated National Back to Church Sunday weekend on September 17-18. Beginning in August, parishioners watched videos after Masses and were encouraged by Fr. Phil and community leaders to invite their friends, family members, and co-workers back to church. Parishioners took the challenge seriously and each Mass saw visitors (and new connections) to Lourdes. Beginning with the 4PM Mass on Saturday and winding up around 1:30 on Sunday, members of the Welcome Team Ministry were evident all over the church property, welcoming participants, driving them through the parking lot in a golf cart, and helping them find seating in church. Fr. Phil welcomed all of the visitors and helped them to understand our traditions while celebrating each of the Masses and connecting all present to the Word of God. Once each Mass was over, visitors and parishioners moved to the Community Center to enjoy a wine and cheese reception on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday. Parishioners mingled with the visitors and showed them around to the tables where Outreach Ministries displayed information about social activities and support groups. Many of the visitors filled out Connection cards and signed up for upcoming events. Newcomers to each of the Masses spoke glowingly about the welcome they felt upon entering the Lourdes community. Victoria Mills, who attended the 4PM Mass at the invitation of a friend, said, “Everybody [I met] is sweet and loving. They are dedicated to the love of God, positive, and encouraging.” Another visitor to the 4PM Mass was Monica, who had been invited by her mother, Roseann. Monica revealed that she had just moved from Brooklyn and the community at Lourdes was one of the reasons. Her mother added that she feels the connection because Fr. Phil makes everything from the liturgy relatable to the real world. Albert Carbrera, who came to the 4PM Mass at the invitation of a co-worker, mentioned that it was his first visit. He really liked the Mass and Fr. Phil and would definitely be back. After the 8AM Mass, Nadine Wilf admitted that it was not her first time but that she was relatively new to the parish. She had stopped going to church for years and only came to Mass to accompany her parents from out of town. She liked what she found at Lourdes and decided to join. Waneira Garcia, who was browsing the Outreach Ministry tables in between the 9:30 and 11:00 Masses, mentioned that her family had recently discovered Lourdes and joined for their daughter, who is hearing-impaired. The 9:30 Mass attracted its share of visitors. Colin and Lauren, local college students, were together but had two different stories. He found the Mass at his college campus to be a bit more formal and traditional than he likes and prefers the liturgy at Lourdes. Lauren, on the other hand, had been away from church for a while but after feeling the welcoming atmosphere at Lourdes, has returned. Teja Stephens, another local college student, was the guest of some friends who are parishioners. She said that her mother is Catholic and after a conversation with her, decided to dress very conservatively. She was very surprised at how modern Lourdes felt and found the Mass and social gathering to be a nice experience. Many newcomers attended the 11AM Mass and spoke about how much they liked the music and the atmosphere of the Mass. Many people also spoke about how welcomed they felt, often saying they had never encountered the outreach and positive feeling at any other Catholic Church. Anastasia and Richard, who recently moved to the Daytona Beach area, and were invited by a co-worker, said that the Mass was different than what they were used to, but in a good way. They liked the way people came up to welcome them. As Outreach Team leaders were packing up their tables and assessing the weekend, many commented on the large numbers of visitors they spoke to and encouraged to sign up for email announcements or membership in Facebook groups. All agreed that the welcome to Mass encouraged visitors to stay. The socialization and opportunity to connect is probably what will bring them back! Fr. Phil said participating in the National Back to Church Sunday event has “healed many broken relationships between the church and the community, and hopefully brought many people back home to God,” For more information on National Back to Church Sunday, see www.backtochurch.com. For more information on Our Lady of Lourdes, contact Sara Truhlar @ 386.405.6946 or visit our website @ www.ourladyoflourdesdaytona.com. (Written by Anne Casey. Photographs by Adam Wilson.)
Blue Mass | 2016
What an AMAZING day! Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church celebrated its second annual Blue Mass on September 11th at 11AM. The Mass, which honored first responders in the Daytona Beach area, was attended by members of the police, fire fighter and medical response units. The procession was led by flag bearer, John Garcia, Senior Fire Fighter with the DBFD. Following him was Team Leader of the DPFD Honor Guard, Aaron Shore, with his son, who was dressed as a junior fire fighter. Shore said that he participated in the ceremony because “It is a good way to memorialize what happened on 9/11. “ He added, “We appreciate the church and community support for blessing our lives going forward.” As the procession of first responders filed into church following Garcia and Shore, they heard the sound of a lone bagpiper from the altar area, playing Amazing Grace. He was soon joined by four others, who piped in the large group of first responders. As they found their seats of honor in the front of the church, the participants in the liturgy processed in as the congregation sang a lively hymn. Fr. Phil Egitto, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes, welcomed everyone as Aaron Shore and his son made their way to a bell on the altar. Rachel Powell, Music Director at Our Lady of Lourdes, explained the symbolism of the firehouse bell that tolled to alert fire fighters to a fire and again when it was over. When a fire fighter has passed away, the bell sounds three rings at three separate times to mark the passing. The Shores rang the bell to mark the passing of all those who lost their lives on 9/11. Following this ceremony, the Honor Guard filed out and the Liturgy was begun. Throughout the Mass, several of the first responders participated as lectors and those who brought the gifts of bread and wine to the altar. As Fr. Phil Egitto was ending his sermon to the crowd, he tied what the first responders do every day to the lessons in the Gospel of the day. As he thanked them for all they do, spontaneous applause broke out in the congregation and soon turned into a prolonged standing ovation. At the end of Mass, Fr. Phil asked all of the first responders to stand for a special blessing. The bagpipers returned to the front of the church and led the first responders out to the ancient Irish tune, The Minstrel Boy. The pipers remained in the church courtyard playing other songs as members of the congregation filed out, while Fr. Phil and many of the fire fighters and police made their way to their vehicles in the parking lot so he could bless them. Everyone was grateful and they posed on the fire engine for a group picture. Many of the special guests spoke about how honored they felt by this Mass of Thanksgiving for all they do and blessing on their lives. Jennifer Durand, Sue Borror, and Sgt. Jensen from the DBPD Citizens Armed Patrol talked about the importance of this ceremony to them. Sgt. Jensen remarked that it was an honor to be invited and the DBPD tried to get as many people to attend as possible. Durand stated, “It makes me feel good when we do something for the community.” Her colleague, Borror, added, “It [the Mass] is such an important event. It needs to be supported by those [local first responders] who were not there [on 9/11].” Battalion Chief Turner of the DBPD echoed that sentiment when he said, “We are thankful that you invited us. It is about representing our brothers and sisters in New York.” Det. Harris from the DBPD remarked that she grew up in New York so 9/11 is very important to her. She was glad to be at the Mass. Officer Alvarez of the DBPD said that he was a child in Mexico on 9/11 and that he has always felt for the lives that were lost, through his years growing up, serving in the U.S. Navy, and now being on the police force. He mentioned that, “It is a special day for all first responders.” DBFD Paramedic Crofutt and EMT Irland both talked about how honored they felt to be at the ceremony. And, U.S. Navy submariner, Daniel Keegan, said that this day was important to him in more than one way. “Today I am celebrating ten years in the Navy.” Both invited guests and members of the congregation were moved and blessed by their participation in the Blue Mass, which honored those who risk their lives daily for all of us. It was also a blessing for first responders going forward that they do their work in safety and thanksgiving for them and for all those who lost their lives to protect their sisters and brothers on that dark day in September of 2001. Written by Anne Casey. Photography by Adam Wilson.