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Bishop Fisher Lent and Easter

Mother of all vigils lights up St. Joseph Cathedral


St. Augustine has called the Easter Vigil Mass the “mother of all vigils.” Anyone attending St. Joseph Cathedral on April 16 would likely agree. The two-hour celebration welcomed two people into the Church, a third reading from Scripture, and fire.

St. Joseph Cathedral is lit by candles as the congregation shared the light originating from the paschal candle. (Photo by Nicole Dzimira)

The service began in near total darkness as a part of the Service of Light. A fire in the back of the cathedral was used to light the large paschal candle representing Jesus Christ as the light of the world, which was then carried in procession to the sanctuary. Its light is passed through the church by a shared lighting of smaller candles. The Light of Christ, or Lumen Christi, was proclaimed three times.

The lights at the cathedral were turned on slowly throughout the night.

“Do you feel dazzled yet?” asked Bishop Michael W. Fisher during his homily. “Isn’t this night much different than any other night you ever experienced in liturgies of our Church? It’s almost as if this liturgy takes on that sense of what the Gospels kind of have us going through. It starts off very serenely, as tonight did with the fire. It moves and builds as we listen to our stories and our salvation history, our relationship with God, to a final crescendo, its climax in the wonderful sacraments – baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.”

“Tonight, my brothers and sisters, we are going to welcome our wonderful brother and sister into our Church,” the bishop said. “They will be baptized where they will go down into the waters of baptism to die of their old self; to rise as they emerge from that water to a new way of life. Then they will receive the further strengthening of the Holy Spirit that it is given to them at baptism and confirmation where there are gifts of the Holy Spirit will help them grow, to grow in confidence and to grow in understanding of the promises of Christ. And hopefully in the years to come, Easter will have an even more profound meaning for them, as I pray it does for each one of us.”

David Lassick and Carolynn Kozel, who took part in the Rite of Christian Initiation this past year, celebrated the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist that night, putting them in full communion with the Catholic Church.  

Bishop Michael W. Fisher confirms David Lassick with chrism oil during the Easter Vigil Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral. (Photo by Nicole Dzimira)

First the bishop filled the baptismal font, then blessed it with the paschal candle. As Lassick and Kozel took turns leaning over the font as Bishop Fisher poured holy water over them, the bishop invited everyone to join in renewing their own baptismal promise by renouncing sin and affirming their belief in God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. 

Bishop Fisher invited the newly baptized to come before the altar to be anointed with chrism oil. They joined the rest of the congregation during the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

The new Catholics span generations. Lassick at 72, made a longtime dream come true.  

Carolynn Kozel (in white) shortly after being baptized, awaits her confirmation. (Photo by Nicole Dzimira)

“I’ve always wanted to become, but I’ve been too lazy to do it,” he joked. “I said I didn’t want to get baptized until I felt it in my heart. When that came, I went to do it and I did it.”

Joining the faith was a similarly lifelong ambition for Kozel, 24, who grew up in a Catholic family, but never received the sacraments as a child.

“I’ve been wanting to do it forever, so I just figured, no better time than now,” she said.

She called the Mass, “Beautiful, absolutely gorgeous.”