April 30, 2022 Essay: A Family Reunion – A Festival Mass

Apr 27, 2022

Family reunions take many different forms. Some occur to celebrate milestone moments in our lives, like birthdays and weddings. Others are sources of consolation at times of loss. And the really special ones are those whose sole purpose is to enjoy the company of relatives or those who are dear to us — to catch up on the latest news of one another, to reminisce, and to share the affection and good cheer that binds us together as family and friends. Family reunions invariably lift our spirits and nurture our souls, both in the moment and in the afterglow of our memories.

My experience has been that any reunion, no matter what variety, takes lots of planning. For some people, the very anticipation of coming together is itself a source of delight. It whets the appetite for experiencing everyone enjoying themselves. Planning every detail of the reunion becomes a labor of love that is appreciated by all as a gift itself. Yes, there are some who cringe at the prospect of a family reunion. With foreboding, they envision scenarios of skeletons of the past coming to life, yet they will show up lest they be considered party-poopers and curmudgeons. The paradoxical thing about this group is that they will eventually enjoy the get-together immensely and will be among the first to suggest that planning for the next reunion should begin as soon as possible!

I am sure that all of us have memories of family reunions of long ago or more recent ones. I think of such things as the kids raucously playing, the elders sitting on lawn chairs and going in and out of several conversations at the same time, of the menfolk at the grill and the women folk shuttling back and forth from the house to the yard with enough food and drink to feed the neighborhood. Then a moment would come when the banter would pause and a meal of food and love would be served like a royal banquet on the finest china, even though it was actually paper plates and plastic cups. Then dessert was served, and the sugar-high revved up the kids once again as the wizened elders looked askance at parents who allowed such frivolity to intrude upon their need for tranquility. There is a nostalgic glow to my memories, tied together with the thread of gratitude I experienced during those celebrations, but lost sight of with the passage of time, that is, until we once again gathered as a family.

I believe it is time for us, here at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, to have a family reunion — of sorts. On Sunday, May 8th, Mother’s Day, those in our parish community who ordinarily attend the 11:00 AM Solemn Mass and those who ordinarily attend the 11:00 AM Wallace Hall Family Mass will celebrate in common Our Parish, Our Home Festival Mass at 11:00 AM in the church. We will come together to experience anew our stated mission as a parish: to welcome all and to worship joyfully.

Planning for this Mass has been in the works for several weeks. The hospitality, liturgical, and music ministries will be combined for this celebration. Like a family reunion, we will reacquaint ourselves with one another. We will be nourished from the same table of faith, friendship, and love. We will call to mind and celebrate what has been meaningful to us as parishioners of this vibrant parish on the Upper East Side of New York City that we recognize and cherish as our parish, our home.

And to our “distant cousins” who may regularly attend one of the other weekend Masses, you are also gladly welcomed to join the other members of the family on May 8th at 11:00 AM.

No RSVP is required! The doors of the church will be wide open to welcome all of you.

— Rev. Dennis J. Yesalonia, S.J., Pastor