From the Pastor: Two Epiphany Lenten Traditions
Those who have been parishioners for a few years will already know most of this information but there are many of you who are new and might be wondering what is coming up for Lent around here. Let me give you some background on two of our biggest and best Lenten traditions! (Actually, somebody from the Epiphany Council of Catholic Women — ECCW — suggested that I do this and also supplied the material, so thanks go to her for all of this!)
In 2019, the ECCW Board was discussing the upcoming Lenten season and how parishes hand out "rice bowls" to collect for CRS. The Board knew they didn't want to do that. There was a Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (DCCW) program involving pennies and prayers and the concept of collecting change for vocations was born. The original name was "Prayers and Pennies for Semmies." The money would go towards paying for their tuition (if needed) and other expenses such as books, clothing, toiletries, auto repairs, and other general necessities that are needed. After all, the men are not allowed to work a “real” job during their seminary school years. During Lent of 2019, we had two young men from our parish who were in formation to become priests and we raised enough funds that they each received $1,000. We decided to have a separate campaign during Advent 2019 for the two young ladies who were discerning religious life. We called that campaign "Prayers and Cents for Sisters." We raised enough to provide them with $600.00 each. The following Lent, 2020, we combined the campaigns into one program and the new name of "Prayers and Pennies for Sisters and Semmies" was launched. Since 2019, we have grown vocations to a total of (5) active seminarians (and a few more discerning) and (4) active sisters in formation. In 2020, we raised $3,250.00 to assist our vocations. We followed that up in 2021 by raising $8,730.00. We try to give to each as his/her needs require and you have been very generous in this! Thank you! The ECCW will be handing out plastic cans once again beginning on Ash Wednesday, which is less than two weeks away. Please take one home. Put it in a central location so every time you see it you remember to pray for our sisters and semmies along with praying for an increase in vocations, especially from our own families. Your prayers are powerful and we are seeing the fruits of those prayers right here in our parish. And if you see fit, please be generous in your donation of change to the can. Putting in your change daily keeps you constantly reminded to pray for these young men and women, but if you prefer to fill the can with 100 dollar bills or million dollar checks, nobody will frown upon you. The ECCW will collect them after Lent, although we ask you to continue your now-habitual prayer for our Sisters and Semmies all year ‘round. Thank you once again!
But wait! That’s not all! Each Friday in Lent (excluding Good Friday) we also have Soup and Stations! “What’s that?” you might ask. It is what it seems to be, though in reverse order, as we pray the Stations before we eat the soup. Join us on Friday evenings at 5:30 pm during Lent for the Stations of the Cross. “Why 5:30?” you might ask. So that those traveling from home can beat at least the very worst of the Friday rush hour traffic. We follow that prayerful reflection with a meager (ha!) meal of soup. Bring a crock pot or instant pot filled with your favorite meatless soup to share and plug it in in the social hall, then join us in the church. After we make the Way of the Cross together, we return to the social hall, which has miraculously been filled with dozens of soup varieties, to break our Friday fast together, we will share supper as a community. “Why the ‘(ha!)’ in the middle of ‘meager meal’?” you might ask. Because the soups people cook up, even though they are meatless, are incredibly delicious (almost too good to be considered a penitential meal!) and you get to try a bit of everyone else’s culinary masterpieces. Don’t let that last line frighten you just because you don’t consider yourself to be a master chef, though. Even if all you can do is throw a bag of frozen mixed vegetables into a pot with boxed seafood broth and heat it up, somehow it will turn out tasting like you are a Food Network star. And there are always a few people who bring in macaroni and cheese, bread, crackers (please be sure to bring baskets or trays for these), and other such things for persnickety children (and adults) who would rather be flogged than to try a multitude of soups. No desserts, though! This devotion has really taken off at Epiphany over the last couple of years and people even bring friends and family who don’t go to this parish or maybe to any church at all. Feel free to evangelize through Soup and Stations! The Epiphany community provides bowls, spoons, cups, and water. You provide the soup and a ladle :). For those that work, feel free to join us whenever you can get here, even if you miss most of it. There is always plenty of food, so even if you cannot bring a soup, come along anyway for the devotion and the supper! Oh, and labeling the ingredients helps those who have food allergies, too. Just write it out on a paper or index card in large print, if you remember.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka