By Juan Perez
Pentecost is the celebration, not simply the event, that occurred in the Upper Room when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and Mary, the Mother of Jesus. It is the celebration of the presence and action of that Holy Spirit, alive and animating the Church today. That presence and action of the Spirit were on display in Times Square, the Crossroads of the World, on Friday, June 3, in an imaginative and exciting way.
The Comunidad Fuego de Dios is a Latino prayer group centered in Saint Pancras Church in Glendale under my leadership. St Pancras is not only my place of work but also my place of ministry. I am the parish’s pastoral associate and youth minister, but on Friday, June 3, I gathered with members of the prayer group and others for an evening of praise and witness to the presence of the Holy Spirit even in the middle of the chaos that is Times Square.
The group, which has done this for several years, began preparing weeks ago, organizing songs, Scripture readings, testimony, and even liturgical dance.
About 20 group members joined together in the middle of Times Square and through their witness to the working of the Holy Spirit drew together at least 500 passers-by and others: the faithful, the curious, and even the not-so-friendly.
The preparation of an event like this requires much planning and coordination, musicians, dancers, volunteers, and even the New York City Police, who were on hand to assure a peace-filled evening of praise.
It isn’t easy getting an event like this put together. It requires lots of pieces to come together. We even had participants fly in from Colombia just to be part of it.
The Comunidad Fuego de Dios looks forward to this event each year. It gives the group’s members an opportunity to express their faith, not to keep it locked up inside but to go and proclaim the Good News of Jesus in a very public way, and in a place that is sometimes associated with sin and darkness. The bright lights of Times Square obscure the darkness that is all around. We feel like we are helping to bring the real light into the darkness.
The group meets for prayer every two weeks at the parish to continue to learn about and share our faith through praise, learning, and Eucharistic Exposition, remembering that the center of all we do is Jesus.
Our regular meetings and their ongoing formation are all part of allowing us to continue our journey, grow in faith and prepare for next year … Pentecost 2023 in Times Square.
Juan Perez, pastoral associate & youth minister, holds a Master’s degree in Systematic Theology, is director of Comunidad Fuego de Dios and the Latino Ministry at St. Pancras Parish in Glendale.