From June 10-21, 2009, sisters from the Juniorate and Novitiate Houses of Formation joined seminarians and apostolic sisters for Popular Missions in Avondale, PA; Phoenix, AZ; and Toronto, ON. The Popular Missions are periods of intensive parish evangelization according to the method of St. Alphonsus Liguori. The sisters and seminarians, along with lay missionaries, visit the homes in the neighborhood and lead activities for children, youth, and adults with a special call to conversion, spiritual renewal and the sacramental life.
The Feast of Corpus Christi occurred during the Popular Missions this year, so each of the three missions held a Eucharist Procession on Sunday, June 14 in honor of Our Lord truly present in the Blessed Sacrament.
More than 70 sisters and seminarians took part in a Popular Mission throughout six agricultural towns in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia: Avondale, Oxford, Kennett Square, Toughkenamon, Cedar Woods, and West Grove. Hundreds of children attended the daily oratories in these towns. In the evenings, adults gathered at a central parish for the mission talk. Unique to this Popular Mission, the sisters and seminarians not only visited homes, but were also invited to visit employees in many of the area’s numerous mushroom farms.
Seven sisters and five seminarians went to direct the mission in Phoenix at the IVE parishes of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and St. Anthony of Padua. In addition to the usual mission activities, more than 60 children under the age of 7 were baptized. Many young people also received their First Holy Communion and more than 30 others entered the Church through the three sacraments of Christian initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion.
Six sisters from the Juniorate participated in the mission at St. Augustine of Canterbury Church. The main focus of this mission was an After School Program for children grades 3-8. After listening to a short talk, the children made crafts and played sports and games. Each day ended with a Rosary Procession followed by a presentation for the parents of the day’s events.
In preparation for the Feast of Corpus Christi, parishioners spent nearly a week building a monument for the Eucharistic Procession on an 18-wheel flatbed truck. The monument included a canopy for the Blessed Sacrament, statues, flowers, an audio system and an area prepared for the children who received their First Holy Communion this year and the newly instituted Eucharistic Ministers.
On Saturday, June 20, more than 130 teens and young adults participated in a Youth Festival. Many generous volunteers and Third Order members helped set up tables, erect tents, and cook meals. Bishop Nicola De Angelis of Peterborough was the main celebrant for Holy Mass in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Throughout the day, the youth attended talks on issues such as chastity, addictions, physical and spiritual maturity, lay mission opportunities, vocations and the four pillars of Catholic doctrine. Nearly constant rain did not dampen anyone’s spirits! God provided the only hour of dry weather during the scheduled sports time, so the youth were able to play volleyball, soccer, and Frisbee in the afternoon. The festival closed after a Holy Hour with the Rosary and opportunities for Confession.