Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Bishop Senior Celebrates Laetare Sunday at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament and Vietnamese Martyrs Parish in Harrisburg

Vested in rose vestments, Bishop Timothy Senior processed into Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church in the Old Uptown region of Harrisburg on Laetare Sunday – the fourth Sunday of Lent – celebrating Mass for the members of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament and the Vietnamese Martyrs Parish.

Laetare translates from Latin, meaning rejoice, and it is the traditional Sunday when the penitential season of Lent takes a brief respite to celebrate and anticipate the immense joy of the Eastertide approaching.

In his homily, Bishop Senior noted what a “beautiful and wonderful church Our Lady is.” He also thanked Father Charles Pham, CRM, pastor, for the invitation to celebrate the Holy Eucharist with the faithful and expressed on the fourth Sunday in Lent that “we celebrate and rejoice at the coming Easter season, it too is also a great joy to be here today with you to celebrate the Holy Eucharist.”

The Gospel reading was from John 3:14-21, which quotes Jesus to Nicodemus, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life…. And this is the verdict that light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light….”

“We all have darkness in our hearts that we must be aware of and that we must deal with,” Bishop Senior said. “It is important to come to the light. Light always wins out over darkness, and we need to be instruments of light. That will bring joy, and then we can share that joy with those around us.”

The parish was formed in the early 20th century, formally established by Bishop Joseph Shanahan (Third Bishop of Harrisburg) in 1906 as a combination church and school at St. Genevieve’s Academy on Maclay Street. In 1920, Bishop Philip McDevitt approved the purchase of property for the future church on Third Street. In June 1929, Bishop McDevitt laid the cornerstone and dedicated the church just before the Great Depression began in October when the stock market crashed, pummeling the American economy.

The church was built in English Gothic style with Foxcroft and Indiana Limestone, which helps lift the tall ceiling rafters to give the imposing church a large feel and ample sanctuary space. The stained-glass windows are richly hued in reds and blues and, when bathed in morning light, the glow is vibrant.

Bishop Ronald Gainer signed a decree on December 8, 2022, to rename the parish to include the title of Vietnamese Martyrs in honor of the faithful Vietnamese community that has made Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church their spiritual home for more than five decades.

(Photos by Rachel Bryson, The Catholic Witness.)

By Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness

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