Missing St Theresa’s monthly First Friday vigil in Woodbrook is not an option for the dozens of people from various parishes who make space in very busy lives to spend a night with Jesus. Or part of it.
Perched on the northwestern fringe of the hotspot Ariapita Avenue stretch, St Theresa’s first began holding First Friday all-night vigils back in 2018 to pray for youth—in particular, the resurgence of a strong youth element in the parish.
It begins with Friday evening Mass at 6 and ends with 6 a.m. Mass on Saturday. In-between, we simply give God space within which to work, and not just inside the church walls.
Parish priest Fr John Theodore CSSp constantly cites the dire need for prayer to change our country and world. “People are blaming the police and government for the murders (in Trinidad), but that doesn’t make sense!” he declared at Saturday morning Mass, February 8. “Murder comes from the heart; murderers need a change of heart! Christian prayer can change people’s hearts.”
He stressed the power of believers uniting to pray for common causes. “If you pray by yourself, there is some power,” he reminded those who had spent the night in prayer, now joined by others newly arrived for Mass. “But, if you pray with others, there is more power. There is power in agreement!”
For the Catholic, he added, the suggested prayer is the rosary. He urged persons to form small pockets of prayer wherever they were.
“If you are working in a company, get Catholics together at lunchtime to pray for your nation,” he said. “If you are in a school, get teachers together. In your neighbourhoods, get together in your homes. Families, find some time to pray!”
The vigil features Eucharistic Adoration throughout the entire night, a blend of private and communal prayer. Each hour begins with a four-minute ‘emergency novena’ prayed for country, vocations and youth.
Traditional devotions, such as the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Stations of the Cross, are also prayed at preset times during the night. All these are contained in a booklet specially produced for the vigil, available for use throughout the night.
Other hours may include the rosary or brief periods of live worship; however, the rule of thumb is: “more silence, less talk”, giving adorers their much-craved time for listening and whispering to God.
The coffee-and-water station that evolved to include spontaneous, unsolicited, donations of dinner mints and snacks, from homemade sandwiches to Paramin sweetbread, has been our additional proof that, where two or three gather to pray, a family is born.
And, you’re invited! We break in March for our parish retreat but come spend the night of April 3 with us. And every First Friday after that!
—Story and photo by
Laura Ann Phillips