Catholics across western Oregon prayed in the darkness with candles and then turned on the lights in songs of joy. It was the annual Easter Vigil, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The vigil is also the moment when those who have been preparing to become Catholic are baptized — or confirmed if they have already been baptized in another Christian community. Then the new Catholics take part in what they have long awaited — the Eucharist.
At St. John the Apostle Parish in Oregon City, Father Maxy D’Costa offered memorable rhymed advice to the newly baptized and confirmed: “Pray, pray, pray every day. The devil runs away. That’s what I say.” Father D’Costa reminded the new Catholics that the vigil was not graduation night, but “the beginning of a life of tests,” but tests with a lavishly loving God helping all the time.
“You will bring new souls to Jesus,” the priest predicted. Worshippers in the large packed church gave thunderous applause as the new members of the church concluded their rites of initiation.
The vigil was the conclusion to the Triduum, the high point of the Christian year and a summation of the Christian story.
On Holy Thursday, Catholics gathered for rich rites that included foot washing to commemorate Jesus’ act of humble loving service. The Holy Thursday Mass also ends with removal of the Eucharist from the church and late night adoration.
At Our Lady of Lavang Parish in Northeast Portland, about 1,000 parishioners took part, many sitting in the church hall watching on screens.
On Good Friday, Catholics recall Christ's saving sacrifice on the cross. Many parishes host stations of the cross, some as live dramas.
About 175 people from different Christian congregations gathered in Beaverton on Good Friday to pray, carry a cross through the city and link the suffering of Jesus to modern social problems. Catholic parishes played a major role in the ecumenical Walk of the Cross and Beaverton Police stopped traffic.
During one station outside the Beaverton Library, Barb Upson of St. Juan Diego Parish reflected on homelessness. “In the state of Oregon, Beaverton is second only the Gresham in the number of families experiencing unstable housing conditions,” Upson said.
The small procession also used the Passion story to pray about peacemaking, the need for truth in media and care for creation. Pope Francis was quoted often, by both Catholics and Protestants.
The walk ended with prayer at St. Cecilia Parish.