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‘It means wonders’: Catholics and Christians return to in-person Holy Week, Easter liturgies

| Thursday, April 1, 2021

One year ago, in the throes of the early pandemic, parishes around the country streamed their traditional services Easter services and Masses instead of hosting their usual celebrations during the most important time of year for the Catholic Church.

For the first time since 2019, many Catholics will be able to go to Holy Week, Triduum and Easter services and Masses in person. With travel discouraged, more students than usual will be on campus this Easter weekend and campus ministry has risen to the challenge, Campus Ministry Director Fr. Pete McCormick said.

“This year will break the record for most amount of people on campus [for Easter] in my memory,” he said.  

After being one of the few people left on campus last year to celebrate, McCormick said he’s very excited for the community to be back together.

“It gives me such joy to know that people will be together for the celebration of Easter,” he said. “It was beautiful in its own way last year, because it was the best we could do, but to know that we can offer this now is truly a joy.” 

Fr. McCormick also said he is pleased Campus Ministry can offer the Notre Dame community a variety of Masses and liturgies this weekend.

“So much of Catholicism is expressed in the community we find ourselves in,“ he said. 

Michael Yu | The Observer
Students pray before the start of the Paschal Vigil Mass in 2015. Students will once again be able to attend in-person Easter services in locations across campus while following COVID-19 and social distancing protocols.

First-year Sophia Frisbie similarly noted the importance of celebrating the season with others. 

Last year, she watched the Good Friday service Notre Dame streamed from the Basilica, and her family watched the archdiocese of Grand Rapids livestream of Easter Sunday Mass.

Frisbie said celebrating the holiday virtually increased a sense of distance.

“A big thing about Mass is being in communion not only with God but with your fellow Christians,” she said. “So the fact that we weren’t able to celebrate with the rest of our community and just as a small family really took a hit on my sense of community.” 

While Catholics during this time were able to celebrate an act of spiritual communion, Frisbie said not being able to celebrate the Eucharist and be with the rest of the Church community felt like “something was missing.” 

McCormick said spiritual communion is recognizing not everyone can be present for a number of reasons, but it reminds Catholics they are to be the incarnate presence of Jesus Christ.

“Where we can receive communion in person — that’s delightful — but even when we cannot, this notion of spiritual communion, of receiving Christ into our hearts, our minds and our souls, and then making that love more expressed in that community that we find ourselves now…is just as important as it ever has been,” he said.  

Frisbie said she is “so excited to be back and celebrate [the Triduum] with others.“ She and some of her friends will attend the liturgies in Purcell Pavilion, as well as pray the stations of the cross together by St. Joseph Lake after the Good Friday Liturgy. 

Junior Jack Consolie also plans to celebrate the Triduum and other liturgies and celebrations both on campus and in South Bend with friends. 

Consolie said when Catholics come together to worship as a community, they are put back into the very actions they celebrate.

“It means wonders to be able to come together especially with people who I wasn’t able to celebrate with last year,” Consolie said. “To be able to commemorate these things with them and to go back with them to the Last Supper, to the cross, to the tomb and to rejoice with them in that Easter joy that can truly be done fully in the Mass and the Eucharist that we celebrate with these events.” 

Last Easter, Consolie celebrated with his family in Georgia virtually, with each person taking up a role to perform at home, such as washing each other’s feet on Holy Thursday and gathering by candlelight on Holy Saturday. 

A member of liturgical choir, Consolie said normally this is the choir’s busiest week. The choir will still perform in smaller groups at some events such as Easter Vigil Mass and Easter evening prayer, or vespers. 

Junior Jose-Miguel Guevara-Hernandez said last year he celebrated Easter at home with his family in Austen, Texas, watching Mass on their TV.

“Our celebration of Easter was different,” he said. “It was odd, it was something none of were really prepared for at the time… but at the same time we were thankful we did have that opportunity and could spend it together as a family.” 

Guevara-Hernandez will attend Holy Week services in person on campus.

“It means a lot to me,” he said. “It’s a return to not just the sacramental life in terms of being able to physically receive the Eucharist again but be able to with other students and other people, who are another manifestation of the body of Christ.” 

He also noted the importance of still being aware of the suffering of others during Holy Week, such as those still sick and in isolation. At the same time, Guevara-Hernandez emphasized the significance of — especially after this past year — the connection between giving thanks and the Eucharist celebrated at Mass. 

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About Isabella Volmert

Isabella "Issy" Volmert is a senior majoring in English and minoring in theology and journalism, ethics and democracy at the University of Notre Dame. She currently serves The Observer as assistant managing editor. Follow her @ivolmertnews for niche JED Twitter content.

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