Easter Returns to St. Mary Mokena

After two years, St. Mary parishioners were elated to celebrate Holy Week and Easter once again in church. During 2020, all churches had been closed during this sacred time due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year, St. Mary opened its doors to the many parishioners and visitors eager to celebrate Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Seating in the church was completely booked more than two weeks in advance.

“I never in my whole life could have imagined having Easter [or] Holy Week with no people [last year],” recalled Father Dindo Billote, pastor of St. Mary Mokena, in his Palm Sunday Homily. “May we not take these Holy Days for granted ever.”

Easter Vigil Fire
(Left to right) Father Mark Bernhard, Father Dindo Billote, and Seminarian Alex Lorang stand over the Easter Vigil fire.

Palm Sunday kicked off Holy Week, commemorating the entry of Christ into Jerusalem and His subsequent Passion. Afterward, parishioners were invited to take the customary palm branches home with them.

On Holy Thursday, St. Mary celebrated the Mass of the Last Supper. As a Covid-19 precaution, the traditional washing of the feet was omitted. That evening, Eucharistic Adoration was held in the chapel until midnight and became a stopping point for those faithful who practice the tradition of traveling between churches on Holy Thursday to pray.

The following day, Good Friday, the parish held a Veneration of the Cross to commemorate Christ’s death, followed by Stations of the Cross in the evening.

On Holy Saturday, Father Dindo held the traditional Easter basket blessing at noon. The church was filled with the smell of fresh sausage, eggs, breads, and more. At night, the parish celebrated its candlelit Easter Vigil Mass.

Finally, on Easter Sunday, the entire parish celebrated Christ’s Resurrection together, a celebration that continues even now. “During the Easter season, we celebrate the victory Christ won for us—a celebration that lasts 50 days!” explains Father Mark Bernhard, parochial vicar at St. Mary Mokena.

“We are invited to press into what the Resurrection promises,” he continues. “I might encourage everyone to read through the Acts of the Apostles during this Easter season…to witness the Holy Spirit’s movement in the early church and reveal His movement in our own lives.”

As it celebrates Christ’s Resurrection, St. Mary Mokena symbolically celebrates its own resurrection—back to being a thriving, active parish.

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