Humble Barn Serves as Setting for Joyful Easter Vigil
Published: April 15, 2004
SHARPSBURG—As darkness fell, hundreds gathered in the fields outside the old tin barn on St. Mary Magdalene Church property. The sound of the crackling fire was the only sound in the night air as parishioners stood in silence for the start of the Easter Vigil.
The paschal candle was lit from the roaring fire, and the silent procession moved into the nearby barn. One by one, vigil candles were lit, piercing the darkness of the night and signifying the light of the risen Christ. And the glorious night of proclamation, song, baptism, confirmation and Eucharist began.
Prepared with monastic seating, the barn was filled with lights, streaming banners proclaiming “Alleluia,” candles, musicians, Easter lilies and an overflow crowd. Much of the dirt floor had been covered with mats and linoleum. The old bathtub, now a baptismal font, was swathed in white cloth and flowers, and wandering carpenter bees cut paths through billowing incense as the new parish of St. Mary Magdalene celebrated the resurrection of Christ.
Father Dan Fleming, pastor, presided at the Vigil, assisted by Deacon Don Kelsey. In his homily, Father Fleming spoke to the candidates, three of whom would receive baptism during the Mass. “Like all of us gathered here, you have every hope that your relationship with Jesus as well as your increased understanding of his life will continue to be enhanced as you strive to live a life as he modeled it.”
He added, “All of us continue the effort to better understand who this person, Jesus Christ, is. And, as importantly, what his suffering, his death and his resurrection means—to us, and all of humanity.”
Following the blessing of water and dipping of the paschal candle, parishioners responded, “Springs of water, bless the Lord, give Him glory and praise forever.”
Receiving the sacrament of baptism were Kelly Cunningham, Joseph Newberry and Gabriel Guzman. Father Fleming was generous with the pitcher of blessed water as the three bent over the font, emerging to the applause of the congregation and dry towels. They then donned their new white garments.
Candidates for confirmation included the newly baptized and Brandon Baksh, Rocio Bermudez, Dana Frank, Lorena Guzman and Whitney O’Bryan. They were joined by their sponsors before the altar as the congregation sang, “Holy Spirit, come into our lives, Holy Spirit, make us truly wise.” A rite of sprinkling followed the confirmations.
During the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the eight new members received Communion for the first time, becoming full members of the church.
Music for the Easter Vigil was led by parish music director Paul Bauer.
Following the liturgy, a reception was held in honor of the newest parishioners of St. Mary Magdalene Church.