On the Road

St. Mary’s Church

Written by: Denise Serafini on Tuesday, March 14, 2017

St. Mary’s Church in Portland, CT graciously hosted our presentation on Sunday, March 12. This is the first church we presented to this year where we could display all eight of our backdrops. They contain the artwork of James Tissot, an eighteenth century French painter and illustrator, depicting the Passion of Christ. We are especially pleased to have them since they present the struggles, sorrows, anguish and emotional perspective of the individuals depicted in each scene as well as the gruesome nature of His Passion. The artwork in Tissot’s illustrations depict something that is far beyond the nature of what is traditionally seen in the standard Stations of the Cross. They also set the tone for the context of the meditations, visually helping the faithful to connect to the various stops on the road to Calvary.

We arrived just a bit early and had the privilege to be given a walk through on the history of this little church, along with an explanation regarding some of the artifacts featured on the walls. The original church was demolished by a fire in 1991, just after having been fully renovated to address structural issues. The parishioners salvaged the steeple cross, mangled due to the heat of the fire, and a statue of St. Joseph which still shows the scars of having been badly scorched in the flames. Both are displayed in the current church which was newly dedicated in 1995.

The current pastor, Reverend Paul Boudreau presided over the event to participate in the formal procession holding the Relic of the True Cross along with the Knights of Columbus Color Guard holding the other relics.  Father Paul also exposed and reposed the Blessed Sacrament and participated in the readings during the meditative portion of our program.

This church is actually dedicated under the patronage of Our Lady of Guadalupe. How fitting for us in that she was the one that brought about the conversion of millions as a result of her apparitions on Tepeyac Hill in Mexico so many centuries ago. As part of our mission, we pray for conversions. Our prayers are focused on the conversion of hearts similar to the experience of St. Longinus when he pierced the side of Jesus and declared “Truly this was the Son of God.” We also ask Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament to help each of us, even the faithful, in our daily conversion as members of His Church. Obviously we could never have the impact of millions of conversions as Our Lady of Guadalupe did in 1536, but if we can help to bring Jesus closer to even one heart we will have made progress in helping her in her mission to convert and save all souls for Her Son.

During veneration there was a couple that approached me to ask if we were the same individuals that had presented the Relics of the Passion for the Celebrating Mercy tour of 2016 in Ogden, UT at St. James Church. I have to admit that I was definitely curious and asked how they would have known that. Well it seems that a job transfer brought them to Connecticut and when they saw the poster for our 2017 Program they aligned their schedule to attend. I was truly touched that they would take note and make it a point to attend because they had so enjoyed the experience in Ogden. Although it may seem trivial to some, moments such as this help confirm us in continuing our pursuits to visit parish after parish to deliver the message of the Father’s love for each of us in giving His Only Son for our salvation.