Written by: Denise Serafini on Friday, March 10, 2017
Although getting into the church was a little chaotic, I could never have imagined the grandeur of what was inside. This church is more than 100 years old, and to say it has an awe-inspiring architecture is a true understatement. The Stations of the Cross were almost life size on the walls and the wall behind the main altar features the vision of St. Anthony with a cross that has to be at least 15-18 feet high. The main sacristy of the church was so large that when I first came in that side door and walked to the center aisle, I found myself literally frozen in place trying to take it all in. One of the musicians came over and tapped me on the shoulder to tell me that she would need help getting her instrument up to the choir loft which was three stories up. I spun around and could barely believe how high the church is. What a magnificent temple of the Lord!
The overwhelming grandeur of this church is certainly matched in the commitment of the faithful that make up this parish. The pews were already relatively filled when we arrived. What we didn’t know was that the Sacrifice of the Mass and a Holy Hour had just completed and a new formal ceremony was about to be held with multiple acolytes and a full music program that they incorporate in their Stations of the Cross devotion. Our event was set to follow all of those activities.
We set up while the devotion made its way through the church at the various stations. In the meantime, additional people filled the pews and we were set to begin the procession and the meditative portion of our program. Since I’m the main narrator I have a bird’s eye view of everything going on in the church, I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t see any of the people that had been there for the prior events leave the church. What an example of faith-filled people that don’t count the minutes that they are in the church but focus on the joy of taking part in the time honored traditions of prayer and church ceremony.
We delivered the meditations, alternating in English and Spanish with Father Cortez presiding over the event and a postulant of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate for the translation.
Veneration was amazing in that the sisters took the lead for recitation of the rosary. Each individual took their time to proceed through the long veneration line and the rosary made all the difference in maintaining a sense of holiness throughout the process.
We completed our evening and several individuals stayed behind to help us pack up and get all of our equipment back down the stairs. We had a wonderful experience with a group of genuinely faith-filled, charitable and gracious people that exemplify the virtues of St. Anthony. We were privileged to find a bit of St. Anthony reflected in each of them.
If you ever happen to be in New Bedford, you simply have to make a stop at this church. I’m sure St. Anthony will arrange a full discovery experience for you, just as he did for us.