Parishes celebrate traditions as Christmas season comes to close
By Rosemary Daniels | Correspondent
As the Christmas season was drawing to a close, St. James Parish, Red Bank, celebrated with an Epiphany Party held Jan. 6 in Red Bank Catholic High School auditorium.
For this parish community, the celebration was a follow-up evangelization effort to the Christmas Carol Festival, held Dec 2.
Many people came together for this first year event. Sisters from the convent and parish priests mingled with a group that ranged from members of the youth group to seniors from the parish. During the evening, the group sang carols, listened to the Gospel of Luke and shared refreshments and fellowship.
Father Christopher Picollo, parochial vicar, blessed cell phones, calendars, planners and iPads, symbolizing the blessing of activities for the coming year. Each person was asked to write down their gift to Jesus. Then, during a Three Kings procession, they could either place it in a box which was laid at the feet of Baby Jesus, or they could tuck the paper into their wallets as an ongoing reminder of their pledge.
Ann-Marie De Stefano, co-leader of parish youth ministry with her husband David, was inspired to bring this celebration to St. James, when she and her daughter Cassidy, 16, attended a diocesan workshop last summer for communities interested in holding a Christmas Carol Festival. At the workshop it was suggested that parishes hold some type of “Jesus in January” event, like the Three Kings celebration, both of which would make for a great youth group service project.
On Dec. 2, the youth group held its first Christmas Carol Festival, which brought out about 130 people. At that time, they invited everyone to return on Jan. 6.
The parish also used this gathering as an opportunity to launch their Adult Faith Formation initiative. Facilitator Maryellen Connolly, a former director of religious education for St. James, will be sharing Father Robert Barron’s 10-part documentary series, “Catholicism,” starting on Jan. 23.
DeStefano said, “We received really good feedback about both events. It was a great way for the different generations to interact at a parish event. We plan to do both events again next year.” The group also brought in food donations for Lunch Break, a local organization which offers food, meals, and clothing for those in need.
Other parishes in the diocese to hold Three Kings celebrations included St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton; St. Barnabas, Bayville, and the “Los Reyes Magos” in Holy Spirit Parish, Asbury Park, during which gifts were distributed and parishioners enjoyed collecting the goodies in a piñata game.
Three Kings Day, also known as Twelfth Night or Feast of the Epiphany, takes place on Jan. 6, ending the 12 days of Christmas. Many Latino communities in the United States celebrate Three Kings Day with parades and performances depicting the Biblical story of three kings following a star to find the baby Jesus, bringing gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh.[[In-content Ad]]