bilingual and seasonal services
Several times throughout the year, the entire parish comes together to worship and celebrate major events as one community of faith. Christmas, Holy Week, the Parish Annual Meeting, and other times are particularly appropriate for bilingual worship. We blend our languages, our musical styles, and our cultural traditions as a way of stating that we have unity without uniformity. We also offer seasonal liturgies that mark important days in the Church's year and our local community's life.
Thursday Evening Rosary
St. Helena's/Santa Elena offers the recitation of the Most Holy Rosary at 7:00 pm in Spanish.
Advent and Christmas
Advent marks the beginning of the Church's liturgical year and is a season of preparation. We anticipate God taking on human flesh in the birth of the baby Jesus. Like Lent, it is a time of reflection and penitence, but with different stories and themes. We mark our waiting for the Son of God by lighting the candles of the Advent wreath each week, getting us closer to the Incarnation. We also celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe with a bonfire, procession of the Virgin, and songs dedicated to the miraculous apparition to Juan Diego. We particpate in the Advent tradition of las Posadas with parties hosted in the church and in parishioners' homes. On Christmas Eve, we have a bilingual family Mass with the procession of the Christ-child to the crèche.
We begin Lent on Ash Wednesday with the call to the observance of a Holy Lent and the imposition of ashes, which act as a physical sign of penitence and mortality. For the first time in 2018, we will also mark the beginning of Lent with Ashes-to-Go in the local community, inviting our neighbors to enter into the penitential and reflective season with us. During Lent, we offer a weekly service of Stations of the Cross, a traditional devotion that commemorates Jesus's journey toward his Crucifixion on Golgotha, followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
The parish celebrates Palm Sunday and the Sacred Triduum (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Great Vigil of Easter) as one community. Beginning with Palm Sunday, we follow the dramatic story of our Lord's Passion: his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, his washing of the disciples' feet and betrayal by Judas, his death on the Cross, and his glorious Resurrection. This week is full of symbolism and deep ritual. On Maundy Thursday we wash each others' feet as a sign of servanthood. On Good Friday, we remember our Lord's Crucifixion and death by performing the Adoration of the Cross. At the Great Vigil of Easter on Saturday night, we light the new fire to symbolize the Light of Christ, recall God's salvation of humanity throughout history, and proclaim Jesus' Resurrection from the dead with the first Mass of Easter.
On Easter Sunday, we return to our normal schedule of separate services in English and Spanish, followed by an Easter party for the parish's children, with dancing, games, an Easter egg hunt, and a visit from the Easter Bunny!
Other Seasonal Services
St. Helena's/Santa observes the other major feasts of the Church's year, including Epiphany, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi, All Saints' Day, All Souls' Day (Día de Muertos), Christ the King, and others.
Some of our services seek to engage our local community. In addition to Ashes-to-Go, we have a tradition of offering a Pet Blessing near the Feast of St. Francis in October, which are continuing this year. It is a wonderful event, and we hope that many members from the neighboring community will accept our invitation to join us to bless our furry companions. We are also planning a new event in the Spring of 2018, a Blessing of the Bikes, for the many cyclists who zip by the church during the warmer months of the year.