KAUKAUNA — As he and several dozen other people prepared for a candlelight procession Dec. 13 from Holy Cross Church to St. Katharine Drexel Church (St. Mary site), Norbertine Fr. David McElroy observed, “Kaukauna is going to be lit up.”
Billed as the “Light from Light Family Ecumenical Event,” the Advent gathering was a festive occasion, featuring Christmas carols, hymns and prayers along the one-mile, church-to-church walk. It also reflected a solemn occasion, remembering the nearly 300,000 Americans who have died from the COVID-19 virus.
Fr. McElroy, parochial vicar of the Kaukauna parishes, spearheaded the event. “With all of the holiday parades canceled, we said, ‘This is something we could do as Catholics,’” he said. “We can walk from one church to the other and incorporate (the feasts of) Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Lucy and Gaudete Sunday.”
While the crowd consisting of seniors, young couples, teens and children gathered in the darkness of Holy Cross Church’s parking lot, a brief presentation on the life of St. Lucy was offered by Clara Vande Hey, dressed as the Swedish saint and martyr. Wearing a candle-lit wreath on her head, Vande Hey shared highlights of the saint’s life.
“Today is the feast day of St. Lucy, and the traditional procession is that you carry light out into the community, sharing the light of Christ,” Fr. Don Everts, pastor, told The Compass. “We are doing it specifically for those who have died from the COVID virus and also, we are praying for a cure for the virus, so that people can experience the healing and the mercy of God.”
The procession through Kaukauna’s downtown district included a stop at Hydro Park, where a Nativity scene offered participants a time to rest, sing “Silent Night” and pray before images of the Holy Family.
Fr. McElroy said the event also gave the parish a way to live out its vision and mission statement: loving Jesus, following Jesus and sharing Jesus.
“This is what we are trying to do, to actualize that vision statement and literally do what Bishop (David) Ricken was trying to get us to do: be disciples along the way,” he said. “It’s a great way of connecting the two parishes across the Fox River. We were looking at ways in which we could strengthen the relationship between” the two parishes.
As the procession arrived at the St. Mary Church site, participants were greeted by St. Nicholas, who handed out gold coins. It signified the tale of St. Lucy and her mother giving away their earthly treasures. Several fire pits were set up for guests to keep warm while socially distancing.
Choirs from both parishes provided music, along with the St. Ignatius School bell ringers. Eight stations, each featuring one of the beatitudes, offered time for prayer, with refreshments provided by the parish.
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