The Spanish catechetical program, which meets weekly on Saturdays at Christ the Redeemer, brought its 2013 Religious Education classes to a close this weekend. Classes met from 9:30a-10:30a as usual. But on this particular Saturday, everyone assembled in Atonement Hall, the parish community hall, to celebrate "Un Regalo de Navidad."
This annual program of catechesis features songs by the childrens choir and catechists, teachings, reflections, prayerful petitions, the telling of Nativity Story, raffle prizes, and a communal meal at the conclusion. Atonement Hall, which was used the previous evening for a reception following the K-6 Christmas Pageant in English, was filled with members of the Spanish community. Catechists and volunteers assisted in making sure the program ran smoothly, that the younger children had ample seating, and that the donated foods were properly collected. Fr. Patrick Coogan, SA and Fr. Ken Cienik, SA made appearance prior to the program getting underway. Fr. Jaime Villalobos, the newest priest-in-residence with responsibilities to the Spanish speaking community along with Amelia Silva, the DRE for Spanish Religious Education led the assembly through the various parts of the Program.
At times serious and didactic, at others humorous, reflective, or prayerful, a communal spirit of good will was evident in the assembly. While the various parts of the program went on, a steady stream of individuals and families came by to drop off food and drink offerings for the fiesta that followed the formal program.
Children participated in a large choir that was led by guitarists. They were later joined by the Religious Ed. Catechists for a rendition of "Feliz Navidad." Other children participated in the Nativity Story in the various roles of Angels, Shepherds, Kings, manger animals, Mary & Joseph. (Jesus made his memorably arrival to the sound of Vivaldi's Gloria!).
Before the communal meal, parishioners participated in a raffle. Those with winning numbers had to next answer religious trivia questions that were facil or dificil (easy or difficult) based on audience response, before winning their prize. There were several moments of spontaneous laughter. For example, one woman was asked an easy question, "What is the name of the new priest for the Spanish masses?" and she had a hard time remembering even when Fr. Jaime stood directly behind her and then gave her a hint, "Jimmy Carter!"
It was a memorable celebration and event. Of special note, the celebration fell exactly during the time of the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and the beginning of the season of Winter. However, DC hit a record high of 71 (the previous record was 68) and temperatures are due to be even higher tomorrow. It is hard to believe that a week ago was an ice storm coming after a week of multiple snow days and school closings. This is indeed a season of new possibilities and surprises.