Currents News Staff and Paula Katinas
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — The time-honored ritual of recreating the act of Jesus Christ washing the feet of his disciples during the Last Supper was the highlight of the Holy Thursday Mass at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph on April 14. Bishop Robert Brennan got on his hands and knees on the altar to perform the service for 12 members of the congregation.
Twelve people were chosen for the privilege because that is the number of disciples whose feet Jesus washed. The recipients at Thursday’s Mass included all age groups, from children to senior citizens. After completing his task, Bishop Brennan dried each person’s feet, smiled and said “God bless you.”
The ritual is significant, he said, because it commemorates Jesus’ love for the disciples and serves as an inspiration for Catholics to follow the Lord’s calling to love one another as He loves them. “This is a glorious night,” Bishop Brennan said. “It’s also a night about friendship.”
The Holy Thursday Mass, formally known as the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, is the first event in the Easter Triduum, which includes the Easter Vigil on Saturday and culminates on Easter Sunday.
Kesna Guerrier, whose feet were washed by Bishop Brennan, has taken part in the ritual in previous years. “It is always a wonderful feeling. You feel different, like you’re being taken out of your everyday experience,” she said.
Guerrier, who attends Mass at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph every Sunday, said having her feet washed brings her closer to her faith.
Jacques Pardovany, a parishioner of the co-cathedral, stepped forward when the church asked for volunteers. “I’ve been a Catholic all my life and it’s important to me to do this,” he said. The last time he participated in the foot washing was four years ago, he explained, adding: “I wanted to do it again.”
Erica Figaro, a parishioner of St. Teresa of Avila Church, was a first-timer. “It’s a big moment for me. I’m excited,” she said prior to the Mass. Figaro was looking forward to another big night in the Easter Triduum. She will be baptized into the Catholic faith at the Easter Vigil on Saturday.
Another highlight of the Mass came when Bishop Brennan covered the Blessed Sacrament in a humeral veil and carried it throughout the co-cathedral in a solemn procession along with members of the clergy, altar servers and seminarians.
The Blessed Sacrament was placed in the tabernacle on the altar of repose and many of the faithful stayed behind after the Mass so that they could approach the altar and pray. Co-Cathedral Rector Father Christopher Heanue announced that the church would stay open until midnight.