Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Faithful Unite and Celebrate Great Jubilee Catholics Gather at UNF

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Faithful Unite and Celebrate Great Jubilee Catholics Gather at UNF

Article excerpt

Gillian Reilly slept soundly in her blue stroller while her father, John, struggled to explain his excitement over her early introduction to the "community of faith." His wife, Laura, sat patiently. Her chair was spun around in circles by her giggling 3-year-old, Moira.

Outside of the room, about 1,200 Catholics were streaming down a hall, as the washing of the feet was completed and the celebration of the Eucharist about to begin.

"This is our family," John Reilly said, pointing at his wife and children. "But this is our greater family."

He was referring to the Catholic faithful and specifically to the multitude that celebrated the Vigil of the Pentecost yesterday at the University of North Florida.

The Diocese of St. Augustine gathered its 51 churches and eight missions, from its territory between the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, Palm Springs and the Georgia border, for a Eucharistic Congress in honor of Christianity's third millennium.

Catholics refer to this year as the "Great Jubilee," which began Christmas Eve last year and will end on the Epiphany, Jan. 6.

Bishop John Snyder disallowed Saturday liturgy in all but five parishes in the diocese to make yesterday's congregation possible. It included a mass Mandatum, where pastors and volunteers washed the feet of hundreds while a small chorus sang.

The Rev. Tom Willis, pastor of the Most Holy Redeemer Parish on Jacksonville's Westside, co-chaired the committee that met monthly for 2 1/2 years to effect the diocese's first Eucharistic Congress in 25 years. The committee secured the UNF facilities and helped design the morning workshops.

"It's been a big undertaking, but the spirit that has been in the building since the morning has been wonderful," Willis said, gazing at ministers emulating one of Christ's last deeds. Christ washed his disciples' feet on the night of the Last Supper to remind them of their duty to serve.

In the rear of a room in UNF's University Center, Albert Charpentier was administering dry towels and collecting damp ones. …

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