On this Easter Vigil: Two Baptisms and a Wedding


Written on 11:01 AM by Jack B.

My sisters were baptized and entered the Catholic Church this Easter Vigil. In addition the older of the two, the pregnant one, got married after Mass. Of course she was already married (since last year) but the first ceremony was (literally) a drive-by type in Las Vegas. This was the “religious” wedding.

Anyway, this Easter Vigil was a particularly long one - especially since they were getting baptized in a section of the Bronx (St. Brendan’s Parish) that I had never been in before. Took almost two hours to get up there to begin with so basically the whole preparing for the vigil thing was a day long event.

I was there, my parent were there as was my 86-year old Grandmother and my aunt (Mother’s sister), my older sister’s in-laws and some of their friends. Since my mother, grandmother and aunt are Jewish I wondered if they got bored or not and it didn’t help that it was unbearably hot inside the church. I was otherwise occupied with the little video camera trying to get footage of the baptisms, confirmations and weddding ceremony (I wasn’t that successful, I think).

It was a good turn-out, and the church was packed. St. Brendan’s is a largish modern building, built in the shape of a boat (i.e. for St. Brendan the Navigator) in a largely hispanic neighborhood although the parish itself is very integrated with large helping of Irish and Asian congregants. It’s interesting to go to a church you’ve never been in before and see what community life is like.

The service was conducted in both English and Spanish, with readings and hymns alternating in both languages. The church choir was very good. There were three priests and a deacon officiating - which in an age where priests are scarce is quite a feat. The Vigil Mass lasted over 3 hours so it took a lot of stamina, many others handled it better that I did. My sister Dee-Dee’s godparents were her in-laws, my sister Erica’s were her former boyfriend’s parents (who she has remained close to). At confirmation time (when they get their baptismal name) Erica got my father to be her sponsor (although getting him to go to church was a miracle in itself). The baptismal names they chose were Teresa (after St. Teresa of Avila) and Maria (after St. Maria Goretti). The main priest singled out two particular new Catholics - young African-American boys who attend the local Catholic school - who apparently decided on their own to convert to the Catholic Church. In a time when Cardinal Egan is preparing to close a bunch of Catholic schools, it was a good example of the evangelizing good (in addition to educational) that a Catholic education can produce. The Father also pointed out about three or four rows of young people (i.e. teenagers and 20somethings) who had been on Easter retreat the previous 3 days and would continue till Easter day itself, sleeping on the floor of the school auditorium, fasting and praying. They had apparently performed an out-door reinactment of Calvary on Good Friday as well as demonstrating (with signs) for pro-life causes (against the Iraq War, abortion, euthanasia, poverty). Got to admit I was impressed.

The wedding itself took all of 5 minutes (and another couple also said their vows). By that time everything was over it was 11:30 at night. Then we went to get pizza (hey, my sister was paying who am I to complain). No one noticed it at the time but pizza of course is made with leavened bread and this is Passover season, when leavened bread is a no-no. Oh, well there goes my fast. By the time I got home it was Easter Sunday already....and a few hours away from Easter Mass itself. Oh, well there goes my sleep.

I’m still not quite sure why my sisters converted. Neither has ever been particularly religious. My older sister married into a very Catholic Puerto Rican family that goes to Church every Sunday, and she’s expecting a baby girl, so that might have something to do with it. But the younger one converting was even more complexing to me. She actually traveled to the Bronx (where she does not live) to go to RCIA every Wednesday, which is very bizarre if you knew her and her fondness for clubbing or hanging out with her friends at pool halls and places like that. These two used to mock me unmercifully when we were younger and we first got EWTN and I would watch Mother Angelica and Father Pablo Straub (he of the giant crucifix while preaching) constantly. Not to mention my reading of the Bible, the writing of John Paul II and other Catholic books...and now...now they are more Catholics than me (i.e. I would rather watch Mass on TV than actually go to it). God truly does work in mysterious ways.

P.S. In case no one noticed the tie I was wearing in the picture above. Here's a close-up. Notice the praying hands holding a cross, surrounded by a big red heart. Yep, its a really tacky tie. I never wore it before although I've owned it literally for years. I mean, really, when would you get the opportunity to wear a tie like this? It was given to me by the younger of my sisters as either a birthday or Christmas present (I forget which). I think she meant it as a joke. The joke's on her - I finally have a reason to wear it - at her baptism. I was actually surprised by how much attention it got - the first thing my sisters said when they saw me was - "What are you wearing?"

P.S.S. Since Julie D. mentioned it in the comments, perhaps I should clarify that being raised in a mixed-religion household, my family celebrated both the Jewish and Christian/Catholic High Holy Days. So during Passover, my mother and sisters and I would try to avoid leavened bread and ate a lot of matzoh (which are really good and don't have a lot of calories). We weren't always too good at it but we tried. At the same time we went to church with my father (usually) during the Christian Holy Week. These days, I still try to observe the Passover fast but as mentioned above I'm not always successful.

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