“I believe that experiencing other cultures can help improve one’s worldview and way of thinking,” Deacon Brian Vaccaro, C.Ss.R., tells us as he writes of his experience in Mexico: “Since early February 2022, I have been serving as a deacon in our parish in Veracruz, Mexico, and have been able to live new experiences and ways of doing ministry. One, in particular, is how to celebrate Holy Week.
In my experience in the United States, parishes typically emphasise the celebration of the Triduum and Easter (and rightly so) but often place little emphasis on the Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday of Holy Week. In Veracruz, all of Holy Week is used to prepare for Easter.
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week, in the afternoon, the parish young adult group had activities and reflections for the teens and young adults of the parish that were designed to help them better understand and celebrate the Triduum. In the evening, the parish priests offered reflections for the adults of the parish, who intended to do the same.
I believe these activities and reflections helped the parishioners enter more fully into the celebrations on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. In my experience in the United States, activities during Holy Week typically take place inside the church, and very little is done publicly outside the church walls.
In Veracruz, people celebrate their faith very publicly. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning, there was a procession in the streets around the church during which parishioners prayed the rosary. On Good Friday, the Stations of the Cross were prayed in the streets around the church during the morning. In the afternoon, after the celebration of the Seven Last Words of Jesus, there was a public silent procession during which the parishioners carried a statue of Mary. Several hundred people participated in the procession.
The following morning, parishioners prayed the Via Matris (the Stations of the Cross from Mary’s perspective) in the streets around the church. During the Via Matris, parishioners carried an image of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
Finally, the Easter Vigil Mass was held outside the main parish church so that all parishioners could celebrate together. I have enjoyed my time here in Mexico, and I have benefited from this experience. When I return to the United States, I hope that I can incorporate some of the things I have experienced here into my ministry. Happy Easter!
Deacon Brian Vaccaro, C.Ss.R.