A Service of Prayer and Music for Childhood Cancer Awareness was held on Friday, September 18 at the steps of Our Lady of Peace Church. Parishioners, friends and neighbors filled the chairs under the canopy outside the shuttered church and lined the sidewalks. Neighbors sat on the steps of their buildings. The complete program can be accessed here: Download September 18 Service for Childhood Cancer Month
The Patriot Brass Ensemble performed a prelude of selections of choral music and accompanied the hymns, seated along the steps of the church. Readings and prayers were offered between hymns. Congregants followed along in their programs with flashlights. The first hymn, with its theme of hope and assurance, was "Guide Me Ever, Great Redeemer." Below, congregants line the sidewalk: (left to right) Ian Kurz (seated), Richard Kurz, Shane Dinneen, Paula Cangelosi and her dog Joey, Antoinetta.
After a brief welcome by Jessica Bede, who leads the rosary each night, Melisande Valdes read four opening prayers for children, family and health caregivers, and doctors and nurses. Two young girls lit the pages of her text with the flashlights from mobile phones. (Below, Jessica Bede and Melisande Valdes and young girls.)
"Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; Your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, 'Here I am.' If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom shall be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations for many generations; You shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in."
The second reading, from the Corinthians was read by Richard Kurz.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ. If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering. Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation."
The Gospel hymn was "Abide With Me."
The Gospel according to Mark was read by Richard's 15-year old daughter, Megan Kurz (pictured below).
"Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, 'My daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.' So he went with him….While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, 'Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?' But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, 'Do not fear, only believe.'
He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, 'Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.' And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in to where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, 'Talitha cum,' which means, 'Little girl, get up!' And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement."
The homily was delivered by Dr. Tanya Trippett, a pediatric oncologist who treats childhood lymphoma patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering. She spoke about the faith experiences of some of her dying patients.
The parish of Our Lady of Peace donated approximately $30,000 to the foundation to help build the hospital in Rwanda. This example of community outreach performed by the parishioners of Our Lady of Peace is one of the services that the community stands to lose if the parish is not reconstituted and the church is not opened again.
The musical meditation that followed Dr. Trippett's homily was a composition of Ralph Vaughn Williams, "Song of the Tree of Life." The interlude was performed by a guest cantor and accompanied by the Patriot Brass Ensemble. The Prayers of the People and the Peace followed. Dr. Trippett is shown below, sharing her program with a neighbor during the singing of the hymn, "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say," an English tune harmonized by Vaughn Williams.
The closing prayers, which were read by all the congregants together, included the "Serenity Prayer" and a "Prayer of St. Augustine." Jessica Bede read an invocation for blessing and dismissal.
The final hymn,"The King of Love My Shepherd Is," was led by the cantor.
Afterward, people remained to light the votive candles on the steps.
All photos by Steven Moy.
Note: The stained glass window detail on the cover of the service program is from Christ Healing the Sick Children by Henry Holiday, 1982. It is located at the SickKids Hospital, Toronto, Ontario.