The Bensonhurst cluster youth group organized a celebratory Mass at St. Frances Cabrini Church, Bath Beach, and a candlelight procession to honor the diocesan patroness, Mary under the title of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.
During his homily, Father Guy Sbordone, explained that the reason the Gospel reading was about Jesus’ conception, not Mary’s, is that all the holidays that honor Mary are meant to bring us closer to Jesus. He also reminded the congregation, which was compromised of Catholics from various Brooklyn parishes, that Mary is honored as the Immaculate Conception, in part, because she declared herself as such to St. Bernadette in Lourdes, France.
Ken Wodzanowski, youth minister for the cluster, said it was Lourdes that inspired the procession in Bensonhurst. Pilgrims from the cluster youth group traveled to France before attending World Youth Day in Spain last summer, and experienced the candlelight vigil with thousands of pilgrims from throughout the world.
John Chimento who attended both processions said that the pilgrimage in Lourde’s was much bigger. However, “it’s not that much different here because I am here for the same reason: to show my devotion to Mary,” he said.
Wodzanowski said the Bensonhurst celebration was the group’s way of bringing back what they learned during their pilgrimage.
Young and old alike followed the example of the youth group by following the cross and Virgin Mary that group members carried all the way to Jamaica Bay. The candles kept their hands warm and the Joyous Mysteries kept their hearts warm.
“Athrough it is cold, it was worth it for the thought of showing respect to our Holy Mother,” said Guerlyne Bernard, EPIC youth group, St. Teresa of Avila parish, Prospect Heights.
Among those who were able to experience the candlelight procession thanks to the youth group was 13-year-old Jasmine Ali, who will be receiving all her sacraments this Easter. She said she was grateful to be able to demonstrate her faith through the procession and to be able to commemorate this feast day in a special way.
“It’s one of the most important holidays because it is when Mary was conceived and she is the Mother of God,” she said.