Catholics to hold Palm Sunday service

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 4, 2009

Natchez — The normal place for Catholic congregations to have weekend worship and to celebrate high holydays is in their churches.

But on April 5, Palm Sunday, the three Catholic congregations of Natchez will meet jointly for a worship service) at the Natchez City Auditorium at 10 a.m.

This announcement was made by the Rev. David O’Connor, pastor of St. Mary and Assumption congregations, and the Rev. John O’Halloran, pastor of Holy Family Church in Natchez, St Ann congregation in Fayette and St. John the Baptist congregation in Cranfield.

Email newsletter signup

“Palm Sunday commemorates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, John 12:12-19), and begins what is known as Holy Week,” O’Connor said.

Holy week recalls and liturgically re-enacts great events in the final week of Jesus’ life – his arrival in Jerusalem for the Jewish Passover, his last supper with his disciples, his arrest and trial before Pilate, and his death on the cross. But the Jesus story did not end with his death, and we Christians believe that He was raised to life again, and this event is commemorated at Easter, O’Connor said.

O’Halloran, described as a day of remembrance.

“Palm Sunday is a great feast day that draws our minds back to the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. My experience is that even church members who are not regular weekend church-goers, find a special attraction to Palm Sunday, and actively participate in the procession with palm branches. The palm branches are reminders of how Jesus was greeted on his arrival into Jerusalem. The service is joyful as it recalls His arrival but it also focuses attention on the events that would happen later in the final week of Jesus’ life with the Gospel proclamation from Mark 14:1 – 15:47,” O’Halloran said.

“The Palm Sunday event is recognized by all Christian people, and because of this we extend an invitation to all interested people in the Miss-Lou to join us for this service,” O’Connor said. “We warmly welcome all those who have not been active in their churches in recent times, and we pray that this might be a new beginning for them.”

Ruth McWilliams, chairperson of the planning committee, said the order of this worship service begins with a call to worship near the Callon Petroleum courtyard, then a prayerful procession to the City Auditorium, blessing and distribution of palms to all those present, the proclamation of the sacred scriptures and the homily (sermon), the general intercessions.

This is followed by the offertory rite, the Eucharistic prayer recalling the words and actions of Jesus at the last supper, and the communion rite. The final part, called the dismissal rite, is the sending forth of the congregation to live the central message of the celebration.

Jennifer Ogden, one of the coordinators of the event said the music for the service will be provided by choirs from St. Mary Basilica, Holy Family parish, and Assumption parish. Alvin Shelby (Holy Family) and Dr. Patrick Doherty (St. Mary) have worked closely to select the musical parts and to rehearse with the choirs. I believe this will be an inspiring spiritual event.”

Parking for the Palm Sunday event will be in the parking lot on the bluff beside the Cock of the Walk restaurant, and on city streets around the city auditorium.

Persons who are not able to walk in the procession may drive to the front door of the auditorium and they will be helped into the auditorium and their car will be parked for them. Those able to walk in the procession are encouraged to gather beside the Callon courtyard between 9:30 and 9:45 a.m.