Holy Saturday morning the church in Dulce Nombre was busy.
Some were preparing more than 1,000 tamales for those who would come to the Easter Vigil.
Others prepared the church and the Paschal Candle.
Our Easter vigil in Dulce Nombre began in a soccer field at least two kilometers from the church in Dulce Nombre.
The firewood arrived late, but the Easter fire was lit about 6:30 pm. After a few words (from me), lots of singing, the blessing of the fire and the Paschal candle preceded the procession to the church.
There are often fierce winds during Holy Week – and so most of our candles were snuffed out as we walked to the church. My guess it that there more than 800 of us - maybe as many as 1,000.
We got to the church at about 8:00 pm and waited until the Paschal candle entered the church.
Then chaos ensued. Despite having put string where the catechumens and their godparents were to sit, I found myself policing the seats and asking people to leave so that the catechumens could have seats. Despite my efforts about 15 catechumens stood or sat on the floor for most of the vigil.
The vigil proceeded with the Exultet. the Easter Proclamation, and all the readings. The singing of the Gloria was “glorious” with the ringing of the church bells and joyful singing.
About 10:00 the baptisms began and continued until midnight – all 102 or so of them. During that time tamales were shared.
I was pleased to see the work of so many catechists in preparing these mostly young people. But I was also very pleased to see a good number of special needs people being baptized and receiving their first communion.
Those baptized also received their first communion and so the Vigil Mass ended about 1:30 am – 7 hours after the Fire was blessed.
I returned to Plan Grande with a car full of people, arriving about 2:30 am.
As we turned into Plan Grande, we noticed that about 15 people from La Torrera had been dropped off there and were starting to walk three hours to their village.
When I left off the people in Plan Grande, I asked if someone would accompany me to take the people to the turn off to their village, thus cutting off about two hours of walking. Isaías gladly joined me – what a good young man.
The people were surprised and quite happy when I pulled up behind them and honked the horn.
I let them off at the junction and they started walking home – arriving at 4:30 instead of 6:30 am.
What dedication of people to live their faith.
I got to bed at 3:30 am – and will spend the day with the Dubuque Franciscan sisters in Gracias Lempira.
The Easter Vigil was long – but another sign of light in the midst of the darkness that often surrounds the life of people here in rural Honduras.
Christ is risen, indeed – in the lives of so many here in the parish of Dulce Nombre.
Photos from Holy Week in the Dulce Nombre parish can be found here.