November 29, 2021 // Bishop

Lighting the way to salvation

As November came to an end, loved ones and all the faithful departed were remembered as prayers rose that perpetual light would shine upon them. To celebrate the deceased, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne hosted the annual “Evening of Heavenly Lights” event Nov. 28, a gathering that not only celebrated the deceased but welcomed the season of Advent.

Photos by Jennifer Barton Bishop Kevin Rhoades blesses the luminaria in remembrance of deceased loved ones at the Evening of Heavenly Lights at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne, praying for their souls. Luminaria were purchased in advance and the names of those honored were also placed on a tree inside the cathedral to receive continued prayers.

Many gathered outside the cathedral in front of the main entrance, where the lights of the luminaria glowed along the walls of the plaza. The evening began with a prayer service led by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, and attendees received a special Christmas ornament as a token reminder of what the upcoming season is all about. 

Click here for more photos from the event.

“What a wonderful way to begin this holy season of Advent — to gather here in front of our beautiful Cathedral in prayer. Though it’s cold out here, there is warmth in our hearts as we remember with love our faithful departed and, with the lights of the luminaria and on this evergreen tree which I will soon bless, we pray that God’s perpetual light will shine upon them.  We remember the words of Jesus: ‘I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,’” Bishop Rhoades said.

After he blessed the luminarias and the evergreen tree that stands out front of the cathedral, he asked Riley Farrell and James Arnold — who portrayed Mary and Joseph — to light the tree as the cathedral choir sang, “Lo How A Rose E’re Blooming.” 

During the event, a live tree outside the cathedral was lit by two children playing Mary and Joseph to begin the Advent season, reminding all who see it of the light of God’s love and the hope for eternity.

The evergreen tree symbolizes that life never ends, as portrayed in the reading from the prophet Ezekiel. “This allegory refers to the kingdom of David and the coming of a new king and kingdom, Jesus and His kingdom of which the Church is beginning,” said Bishop Rhoades.

Pat Voe and husband Victor, parishioners at St. Charles Borromeo of Fort Wayne, spoke of what the evening meant to them. 

“I mainly came because my brother passed away last year and I also added on my mom and dad and [Victor’s] sister. This event means a lot to me because of my brother dying last year of a heart attack,” she said.

Another attendee, Cecilia Aguilar-Tussey, came to the event and was excited to do so because of not being able to attend last year. 

“My father passed away last year. I thought it was perfect to be able to honor him. The month of November is when we pray for all of our departed loved ones. I think it’s just a beautiful ceremony.”

A young attendee feeds a mini-donkey on the cathedral grounds. Scheumann Farms and Petting Zoo brought the donkey and two sheep to the event.

Though it was a cold night, Margaret Stein came out because she felt inspired by the meaning of the theme of the night. 

“It’s more spiritual [for me] and comforting. I attended last year and I just really enjoy this. I love the amount of people that come out for it and the bishop. I always enjoy listening to the bishop,” said Stein.

The ceremony ended with attendees who lit luminarias for their loved ones, taking them home with them to display. There was also a donkey and two sheep present, brought by Scheumann Farms and Petting Zoo in representation of Jesus’ birth. Eventgoers were able to pet and feed them.

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