SEAVIEW – Dozens of parishioners at St. Mary Parish enjoyed a potluck on Epiphany Sunday to find out who spent the previous six weeks praying for them.
The Jan. 7 Mass and potluck celebration was the conclusion of the parish’s Advent Family Prayer Program, which involved more than 50 families from the small parish in Seaview, located on the southwest Washington coast.
“I love thinking there’s someone praying for me every day,” said parishioner Janet Easley, who has participated in the program since the early 1990s. Easley said she believes the program began when Father Richard Gallagher was pastor of the Pacific County parish.
It’s sort of like a “Secret Santa” for prayer — the families who participate don’t know who is praying for them until Epiphany.
Heralds of Good News Father Zevier Arockiam, priest administrator at St. Mary Parish in Seaview, speaks to his parishioners during a potluck that followed Epiphany Sunday Mass. Photo: Fernando Rodríguez
Families sign up before Advent and receive a name of another family by mail. Then parishioners spend the Advent and Christmas seasons praying for that family and the needs they requested, said Heralds of Good News Father Zevier Arockiam, St. Mary’s priest administrator.
“It’s a way to share joyfulness,” Father Arockiam said.
He said the program reminds him of his seminary years in India, where fellow students would pray for him. It is also reminiscent of missionary work he performed while spending 10 years in Papua, New Guinea. During Advent when he was a missionary, Father Arockiam encouraged parishioners to find Christ in someone close to them.
Following Mass at St. Mary’s on Epiphany Sunday — which celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the Wise Men from the East — parishioners gathered for the potluck, also bringing nonperishable food items for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
During the celebration, the identities of the families praying for each other were announced, and Father Arockiam presented small gifts to all children in the parish who will make their first reconciliation and first Communion in 2018.
“It’s just a joyous occasion,” Easley said.