Kathleen, Ga.- The sanctuary at St. Patrick Church, Kathleen slowly filled to near capacity Thursday evening. The Holy Thursday Mass is always popular with the middle Georgians that attend the parish and this year’s Mass was no different despite being in the middle of a global pandemic. The seating at St. Patrick is spread out across the large space that is the sanctuary for better social-distancing but that did nothing to stop Father Eric Filmer, the pastor at St. Patrick, and deacon James Roberge, from greeting parishioners minutes before Mass was scheduled to begin.
Holy Thursday Mass is the celebration of the Last Supper and Jesus’ establishment of Holy Communion. That night he and his Disciples gathered for what would be his final meal, and now people of St. Patrick Church gathered for, not a meal of food per say, but for a spiritual meal. “Did you ever wonder what was the first quoting of Jesus Christ put into writing?,” said Filmer during his homily that night. He was referring to the Gospel reading of the day, 1 Corinthians 11:24-25 in which Jesus establishes both the Eucharist and the celebration of Holy Communion. “That was Jesus emphasizing what the Holy Eucharist is for,” said Filmer. “In those words Christ also instituted the priesthood. I am very thankful for the priesthood. It gives me meaning for life, it’s also what I do for a living.” The laughter that filled the sanctuary following those words further symbolized the mood in church that night.
Due to the pandemic many parishes around the country will refrain from having the washing of the feet, a symbolic celebration that normally takes place on Holy Thursday. There was no washing of the feet last night but Filmer made sure to mention the importance of what that means during Holy Week. “Jesus performed the task of a servant, and we normally repeat it because it’s symbolic of humble service to others,” said Filmer.
During his homily Filmer mentioned the ongoing trial of disgraced former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and the recent attacks on Asian-Americans. “The Gospel teaches us to represent the good teachings of Christ,” he said. “We are the ones who are to be ambassadors of Christ. As we look at Jesus washing the feet of his Disciples, know that there can be no task too demeaning for us to do.”
A laptop broadcasting the Mass via the parish Facebook page lay upon a lectern at the back of the room. Following Mass the sanctuary remained opened for an additional hour and a half for quiet prayer and reflection. A family of six; father, mother, a pair of sons and a pair of daughters, remained in their seats praying together.