Servers kneel in front of the altar as Fr. Nicolaus Marandu celebrates Mass April 20 during the Easter Vigil at St. Frederic Church in St. Helens. (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)
Servers kneel in front of the altar as Fr. Nicolaus Marandu celebrates Mass April 20 during the Easter Vigil at St. Frederic Church in St. Helens. (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)

ST. HELENS — A cool breeze blew off the lower Columbia River at sundown April 20 as Roberto and Nathan Navarro kindled the Easter fire at St. Frederic Church here.

But the church portico warmed up when it filled with worshippers. Father Nicolaus Marandu, pastor, proclaimed prayers over the fire before the quiet crowd processed into the dark church behind the one light — the flame of the Easter candle.

Gretchen Robinson sang the moving exsultet, calling the church to rejoice at the resurrection.  A series of Scripture readings, beginning with creation and moving through the prophets and the story of the Red Sea, spoke of God’s mighty liberation, a fitting prelude to the story of the Resurrection, familiar to us now but shocking to the followers of Jesus and all who heard the tale in the first years of the church.

“We can only say yes to our God,” Father Marandu said during his homily. “He is always with us. Even when we have difficulties in our lives, he is ready to help us.”

Seeking God’s aid in particular was Jessica Ronan, baptized during the vigil. Manager of a local bank, she has been raising daughters on her own since their father was deported to Mexico. Family and parishioners surrounded Ronan to pray for her after her baptism, confirmation and Communion.