San Roque, alegres venimos aquí,
queremos honrarte con cantos sin fin.
Servidor fiel, oh peregrino!
Acompáñanos en el camino!
Saint Rocco, happily we come here,
We want to honor you in songs with no end.
Faithful server, oh pilgrim!
Accompany us in our path!
– Traditional Spanish Hymn to St. Rocco
We write this article from Avondale, Pennsylvania to share with you the joy that we have experienced during the preparation and celebration of the feast of Saint Rocco which occurred on August 16th, 2012. St. Rocco is the patron of our parish and his feast day marks the first anniversary of the dedication and blessing of our Parish Church. We thank God for the gift of this parish home and all the many graces that He has bestowed on us this year through the intersession of St. Rocco.
Spiritual Preparation: A Novena of Sacraments, Activities, and Prayer
To prepare ourselves spiritually for the feast, the parish community participated in a novena of Masses and other activities with each day dedicated to a special intention. Every day of the novena included a procession in which we carried an image of St. Rocco from the St. Rocco Center to the Church while praying the Rosary. The procession was always followed by the Holy Mass, dedicated to the particular intention of that day. Thanks be to God, throughout the entire novena we were blessed with wonderful weather, good spirit, and plentiful participation and support from our faithful parishioners.
For the Sick and the Deceased
The novena started on Tuesday, August 7th with a day dedicated to the sick members of our community and families. During the Holy Mass, many sick parishioners were given the sacramental anointing of the sick, and all those present were given a special blessing at the end of Mass. Wednesday was dedicated to the deceased members of our parish. As is our tradition, we erected a small altar on which parishioners could place pictures of their deceased family members who were to be remember during the Mass.
For the Sacraments of Confession and the Holy Eucharist
On August 9th we celebrated the compassion of Jesus by seeking forgiveness and healing in the sacrament of confession. As in the words of the late Fr. Antonio Royo Marin, OP, theologian and spiritual director, “After a good confession the soul feels full of peace and comfort.” We were fortunate to have three priests available to hear confession for more than two hours after Mass. The next day of the novena, dedicated to the Holy Eucharist, we provided the opportunity for nocturnal Adoration. “A chapel that is always open to whoever wants to gather at any time of the day or night is like the arms of Jesus, always open to take in all man…” (IVE Perpetual Adoration Website, Chile). It was our wish in providing nocturnal adoration to give the families of our parish time to have a personal and intimate encounter with our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. Immediately after Mass the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, initiating our time of Eucharistic Adoration which lasted until 8:00am the next morning.
For Children and for Families
The next two days of the novena were dedicated to children and families respectively. To bring the children of our parish closer to Jesus, we organized an all-day oratory on Saturday. The oratory included activities, crafts, and plenty of sports and games. The day ended with the daily procession and Mass followed by an award ceremony for the competitions that day. During the procession the children were praying, singing, and cheering! All in all we had about 150 children participate in the event from the ages of 5 to 12 years old. Sunday August 12 was our Family Day. After Mass we organized a talent show where families could sing, recite poems, dance, or display other talents. It was a wonderful night of fun and healthy entertainment which we hope brought families closer together. In the end, around 200 parishioners came out to watch and participate in the show.
For Religious and Priestly Vocations and for the Youth
On Monday, parishioners joined together to pray for and celebrate priestly and religious vocations. We watched several videos which explained the various vocations within the Church. For our day for youth, we followed the example of St. Don Bosco, who once wrote “The youth should not only be loved, but also they must know they are loved.” After Mass, we had an informal get-together with the youth in our parish. They met in the Church Center to watch an inspirational video about the true meaning of life, play games, and eat delicious pizza.
For the Blessed Virgin Mary and Mañanitas for St. Rocco
We honored our Blessed Mother by praying as a parish a continuous rosary that lasted the whole day of August 15th. Different parishioners would take turns praying rosaries in honor of Our Lady. At 11:00 pm we started the Mañanitas for St. Rocco. Mañanitas (the Morning Song) is a Mexican tradition in which the faithful spend the night before of an important feast singing songs to celebrate the saint. The Mañanitas for Saint Rocco were sung by The Mariachis and the folkloric dance group Los Chinelos.
August 16th: St. Rocco, Pray for Us!
Our day started at 6 am with the Aurora Mass, the beginning of a day filled with fun and joy made possible by the hard work and dedication of many volunteers and parishioners. We could truly say we experienced the truth of the words: happiness is a product of sacrifice. We spent all morning setting up games and activities all around the Church and Church Center. A Mass was celebrated at noon, followed by a procession, and the opening of our great feast. Parishioners of all ages took part in the contests, dances, volleyball games, bingo, and many others activities. We were so glad to see the happiness and enthusiasm in so many of the parishioners.
At 6:00 pm we prayed the Holy Rosary in the Church followed by a solemn Mass attended by many parishioners, including our generous benefactor Mr. Rocco Abisinio and family.
The feast closed with the awarding of prizes to those who won various competitions and a dance performance by Los Chinelos.
These events surrounding this important feast were only possible because of the help of so many generous donors and volunteers who gave time, energy, prayers, and financial support to the parish. We thank God for the opportunity to come closer to Him and to each other through this celebration, and for the abudant graces we have received during this past year.
We entrust the ministries that are held at Saint Rocco Parish to your prayers.
Sisters of the Community of Our Lady of Guadalupe