by Antonina Zielinska
With the Year of Faith in full swing, the parish of St. Frances de Chantal, Borough Park, celebrated the feast of the Epiphany by keeping the responsibilities of their faith in mind.
They celebrated a festive family Mass Jan. 6 complete with Three Kings, a family blessing and traditional Polish Christmas carols.
Instead of presents for children, the Wise Men brought gifts of a different variety. Adrian Katan, 14, Olivia Katan, 12, and Alex Katan, 11, presented the bread and wine in the offertory procession. At the end of Mass, they distributed gifts of chalk and incense to members of the congregation.
The incense symbolized frankincense and myrrh, two of the original gifts of the Magi. Instead of gold, they offered chalk. Before blessing the items, the pastor, Canon Andrzej Kurowski, S.A.C., explained that the chalk could be used to write “K+M+B 2013” on the front door of parishioner’s homes.
The letters represent the names of the Magi, Casper (spelled Kacper in Polish), Melchior and Balthasar. In Poland and in most Polish parishes, including St. Frances de Chantal, parishioners invite priests to their homes during the Christmas season, which in Polish tradition can be extended to Feb. 2, the feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. The priests bless the homes of the faithful and write “K+M+B” and the year at the top of the home’s front door.
“This is a sign that these people are witnesses of faith,” Canon Kurowski said.
Monika Katan, the mother of the children who portrayed the Three Kings, said she is pleased that her children had an opportunity to continue to celebrate Christmas with this form of ministry. She said that it helps them understand that Christmas is not just about Santa Claus and presents.
Maria Serafin, a teacher at the parish’s Saturday Polish school, said that celebrating the Epiphany with a family Mass helped teach American- born children of Polish descent the culture and traditions of their heritage. This, she said, strengthens family bonds.
She added that when families attend Mass together they often eat dinner together afterwards as well. When children understand their parents’ culture, family time is more pleasant and fruitful. This, she said, leads to a “healthy family, a healthy Church and a healthy society.”
Educating and strengthening the family is a priority during this Year of Faith at St. Frances de Chantal, Canon Kurowski said. The parish will continue to celebrate family Mass on the first Sunday of the month during this year. The pastor said this attracts more people with children to attend because it has more celebratory elements such as the blessing with holy water and incense. The church was standing room only for the Mass of the Epiphany.
The parish bulletin publishes questions and answers about the Catholic faith for the Year of Faith to encourage deeper understanding of theology and Canon Law.