Religious News

Holiday News from the World of Religion, by Laura Eng

How the Diocese of Brooklyn Observes Holy Week

Christians all over the world will mark the beginning of Holy Week on Palm Sunday, April 9. Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday, commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. The distribution and waving of palms is symbolic of Jesus’ impending victory over death. Palms placed on graves during the Easter season further symbolize the Christian belief that death is not final, but merely the beginning of a new life.

For Catholics, Monday, April 10, is known as Reconciliation Monday, a day set aside for Catholics to confess and be absolved of their sins prior to Easter Sunday.

On Tuesday evening, April 11, Bishop DiMarzio invites all the priests of the Diocese of Brooklyn to a Chrism Mass at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, where he will bless and distribute the holy oils. The Oil of Catechumens, the Oil of the Sick, and the Oil of Chrism will be used during the upcoming liturgical year to anoint the newly baptized, the sick, those being confirmed into the faith, those being ordained to the priesthood, and altars of new churches. During the Chrism Mass, all priests present are called to renew their priestly vows.

The Paschal Triduum is the major event of Holy Week and is comprised of the three days leading up to Easter Sunday. It starts with Holy Thursday, the day remembering Jesus’ celebration of a Passover meal with his disciples when he offered them his body and blood in the form of the Eucharist. Holy Thursday also calls to mind the service of priests and it is customary for priests to wash the feet of the faithful as Jesus washed the feet of his apostles. There is an old tradition of visiting three churches on Holy Thursday night so many are open late for quiet prayer and adoration of the Eucharist.

Good Friday, the most solemn day on the Christian calendar, is the only day of the year that Mass is not celebrated. Instead there is usually a service at 3 pm – the time it is believed that Jesus died on the cross – that includes a reading of the Passion of the Lord and Veneration of the Cross. Many churches conduct the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday while others hold outdoor processions which are reminiscent of the Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa). For Catholics, Good Friday is also a day of abstinence from meat, as well as fasting in which only one main meal and two smaller meals may be consumed.

Holy Saturday is a quiet day, representative of the day that Jesus spent in the tomb. It is spent in preparation of what is to come and culminates with the great Easter Vigil, beginning with the lighting of the paschal candle. Readings by candlelight from the bible start with Genesis and progress forward with stories telling all that

God has done through the Old Testament. Those readings end with the proclamation of the triumphant resurrection of Jesus Christ as the church becomes brightly illuminated to the resounding ringing of bells and the singing of the Gloria. The resurrection is also celebrated at Masses on Easter Sunday as well.

Passover Begins at Sundown on April 10

The Jewish holiday of Passover, also known as Pesach, is the commemoration of the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt, thought to have taken place around 1300 BCE. Passover always occurs in the spring. It begins at dusk on the day before the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan. This year, Passover will begin at sundown on April 10. The holiday usually lasts for seven days in Israel and eight days outside the country.

As recounted in the Bible, God precipitated the release of the Jewish people from bondage by unleashing ten plagues upon their ancient Egyptian captors. The last and worst of these plagues was the death of all first-born sons of the Egyptians. To protect their sons, the Israelites were instructed to mark their doorposts or lintels with the blood of an unblemished lamb or goat, providing a sign to the Lord that these homes should be passed over, hence the name Passover.

Following that final plague, the Pharaoh freed the Jews, who were then led by Moses on an exodus across the Red Sea and out of the land of Egypt. The Israelites fled in such a hurry that there was no time for the dough to rise for the bread they were preparing to bake; the bread that resulted was a flatbread and so only unleavened bread or matzah is eaten for the duration of Passover.

On the first – and sometimes the second – night of Passover, families share a traditional meal known as a Seder. The Seder consists of wine and various symbolic foods such as vegetables dipped in saltwater, a roasted egg, a roasted shank bone, three matzot, bitter herbs, parsley or lettuce, and charoset (a paste made of nuts, apples, pears, and wine) arranged on a seder plate. This is followed by a feast of time-honored dishes such as chicken soup with matzah balls, gefilte fish, roasted meat, and macaroons. The word “seder” means “order,” which is very important aspect of the tradition. The whole procedure must be carried out in a certain order, which is outlined in a guide called the Haggadah.

The meal begins with the recitation of the kiddush (or benediction) and the lighting of candles. During the meal, the four questions from the Haggadah are usually asked by the youngest child at the table, beginning with the first one, “Why is this night different from all other nights?”

It is believed that the prophet Elijah visits each Jewish household during Passover so it is customary to set a place or a glass of wine for him at the table.

Local synagogues such as Congregation Mount Sinai and Kane Street Synagogue have seders planned for their congregations and for members of the community. Details are provided below.

Upcoming Events

St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church
157 Montague Street
Palm Sunday, April 9 at 9:30 am with Procession of Palms and special Holy Week liturgy and Holy Eucharist at 11:15 am with Procession of Palms and Passion Gospel; the 11:15 procession will lead the congregation from St. Ann’s Parish Hall at 157 Montague Street back to its historic sanctuary, on the corner of Clinton and Montague Streets, after months of restoration work. All are invited to attend!
Holy Wednesday, April 12 – Bible Study 12 pm; Holy Eucharist at 6 pm.
Maundy Thursday, April 13 – Holy Eucharist at 7 pm with Foot washing and Stripping of the Altar.
Good Friday, April 14 – Stations of the Cross at noon and Solemn Liturgy at 7 pm with chanted Passion Gospel and Veneration of the Cross.
Easter Sunday – Early Church at 9:30 am followed by Easter Egg Hunt; Festival Eucharist 11:15 am with Choir and Brass.

Congregation Mount Sinai
250 Cadman Plaza West
Passover Seder on Tuesday, April 11 at 6:30 pm. All ages to share the beauty and spirit of the holiday. Traditional Passover foods will be served; $75 for members, $85 for non-members, $20 for children 12 and under.
Prayer and Mysticism class on Saturdays from 9-10 am, for those interested in the Jewish mystical tradition (Kabbalah), suspended to April 22.

Kane Street Synagogue
236 Kane Street
Pre-Passover Community Shabbat Service and Dinner on Friday, April 7 at 6 pm. RSVP for dinner by Wednesday, April 5 at 12 pm at (718) 875-1515.

Sacred Hearts/St. Stephen Church
Summit & Hicks Street
Palm Sunday on April 9 begins with blessing of palms on Court Street and 1st Place at 9:45 am followed by procession to SHSS Church for 10 am Mass.
Reconciliation Monday on April 10.
Holy Thursday, April 13 – The Supper of the Lord at 7 pm.
Good Friday, April 14 – Liturgy of the Passion at 3 pm; Good Friday Procession at 7 pm.
Easter Vigil on Saturday at 8 pm.
Easter Sunday Mass 10 am and 12 pm.
St. Stephen High School Class of 1967 50th Anniversary Reunion on Sunday, April 23 from 12-4 pm at Marco Polo Restaurant. Cost: $60 per person. For information, e-mail at or

St. Agnes Church
Sackett & Hoyt Streets
Reconciliation Monday on April 10 from 3 pm-9 pm.
Sounds on Sackett Concert Series on Saturday, April 22 at 7 pm featuring jazz singer and pianist Roslyn McClore singing jazz classics inspired by Nina Simone, Nancy Wilson, and Ella Fitzgerald.
Young at Heart Group – meets every Wednesday at 1 pm at St. Agnes Hall.
Stations of the Cross on Wednesdays following the 8:30 am Mass.

St. Mary Star of the Sea Church
467 Court Street
Day of Eucharistic Adoration, Wednesday, April 5 – Following Mass at 9:30 am, the church will remain open all day for prayer and meditation. Benediction and reflection at 7:30 pm given by the Most Reverend Robert J. Brennan, D.D., Auxiliary Bishop and Vicar General of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Light refreshments to follow. All are welcome!
Palm Sunday, Mass on April 9 10 am.
Reconciliation Monday on April 10.
Holy Thursday, April 13 – Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7:30 pm
Good Friday, April 14 – Passion of the Lord at 3 pm, Veneration of the Cross at 7:30 pm
Holy Saturday, April 15 – Easter Vigil at 8 pm
Easter Sunday Family Mass at 10 am – All are welcome!

St. Paul’s Catholic Church
234 Congress Street
Stations of the Cross on Friday mornings following the 8:30 Mass in English, Friday at 7 pm in Spanish.
Rosary for Life: Believe, Pray, Save – Every Monday at 1 pm with Sister Innocentia.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
199 Carroll Street
Palm Sunday Mass at 11 am.
Maundy Thursday, April 13 – Mass at 7:30 pm.
Good Friday, April 14 – Litany at 12:00 noon, Stations of the Cross for Children at 5:30 pm.
Easter Vigil on Saturday, April 15 at 7:30 pm. Easter Sunday Mass at 11 am.

Visitation BVM Church
98 Richards Street
Healing Mass on Wednesday, April 5 at 7 pm in Spanish and on Friday, April 28 at 7 pm in English.
Reconciliation Monday on April 10 from 3-9 pm.
Holy Thursday, April 13 – Washing of the Feet at 7 pm and Awake With Jesus in Gethsemane at 10 pm.
Good Friday, April 14 – Way of the Cross from 11 am-2 pm, Presentation of the Holy Shroud from 2-3 pm and Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion at 3 pm.
Holy Saturday, April 15 – Prayer of Liberation at 12 pm in small chapel and Easter Vigil at 8 pm.
Easter Sunday Masses at 10 am in Spanish and at 12:30 pm in English.
Fiesta De La Divina Misericordia on Saturday, April 22 from 8 am-8 pm with Mass at 7 pm, $10 donation.

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