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While unable to gather in person, western Kentuckians shine the light of Easter from their homes

Terry Murphy of St. Peter of Alcantara Parish in Stanley created this makeshift prayer space in her home to watch and pray with Bishop Medley’s live-streamed Easter Vigil liturgy on April 11, 2020. COURTESY OF TERRY MURPHY


Ordinarily, The Western Kentucky Catholic’s post-Easter issue features an array of photos from that year’s Holy Week and Easter liturgies. Some memorable pictures have included the searing “Via Crucis” portrayal of Jesus’ walk to Calvary, as depicted by Sts. Joseph and Paul parishioners in the streets of downtown Owensboro, and the smiles shared as a newly-baptized person rises from the waters during St. Stephen Cathedral’s Easter Vigil liturgy.

Lindsey DeArmond, whose family belongs to Blessed Mother Parish in Owensboro, writes: “This photo was taken of me on Easter Sunday April 12, 2020. We watched our church’s Easter Mass from YouTube, and I was kneeling on the ground during the Eucharist and I felt compelled to put my head down and heavily pray.” COURTESY OF EMILY LYONS

But this year, as with most (if not all) dioceses around the United States, our sacred celebrations were limited to private liturgies (often live-streamed online) and quiet prayer in our homes as our communities socially isolated and continued the fight the spread of COVID-19.

Staff members of the Diocese of Owensboro decided that while it was not possible for Catholics of western Kentucky to gather in their churches this year, they could still be united in prayer. So on April 3, inspired by others across the state and across the nation doing similar initiatives, an announcement was posted on the diocese’s social media accounts, inviting all to display “Easter lights” as a sign of solidarity during this time.

“Beginning at 8:00 PM on April 11, Holy Saturday, and through May 31, Pentecost Sunday, use the symbol of light as an outward sign in some way on your property as a witness to all of the prayers burning in our hearts and as a reminder that the light has come into our world and has conquered even death,” read the announcement.

The announcement encouraged participants to use the hashtag #EasterLightsKY to share their pictures on social media.

“Each night, as you ‘turn on the lights,’ you might also light a candle and say a prayer to the one ‘who sheds his peaceful light on all humanity’ (the Exsultet from the Easter Vigil) for an end to the pandemic,” the announcement added. “Let’s unite with one another in prayer this Easter season and remind one another and our neighbors that we are never beyond the reach of God. Let’s light up the world!”

A light-covered cross is displayed outside the home of the Swaggart family in the evening of Holy Saturday, participating in the diocese’s “Easter lights” initiative to light up the world. COURTESY OF DEANNA SWAGGART

Veda and Lou Mattingly (in window) of St. Mary of the Woods Parish in Whitesville receive a socially-distant, but nonetheless sweet, Easter visit from Cooper, Millie, Kapri and Braylon Coots of Blessed Mother Parish in Owensboro. COURTESY OF LAUREN COOTS

“‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome It,’ John 1:5. Alleluia! He is risen!” writes Diane Willis, director of faith formation at Immaculate Parish in Owensboro, who shared this photo of her “Easter lights” at her house. COURTESY OF DIANE WILLIS

Terry Murphy, who belongs to St. Peter of Alcantara Parish in Stanley, shared this picture of her Easter lights outside her home on Holy Saturday 2020. COURTESY OF TERRY MURPHY

“Christ, be our light” – Jackie Freels, a parishioner of St. Alphonsus Parish in St. Joseph, shared this picture of a light-adorned cross outside her house the evening of Holy Saturday 2020. COURTESY OF JACKIE FREELS

Myra, Isla and Stella Swaggart of St. Leo Parish in Murray stand outside their house with palm branches while their family celebrates Palm Sunday at home on April 5, 2020. Their mother, Deanna Swaggart, writes, “We hope to continue many of these traditions in the coming years. COVID-19 and the need to social distance have highlighted the importance of the domestic church. Liturgical living is possible with simplicity and intention.” COURTESY OF DEANNA SWAGGART

Susan Montalvo-Gesser, whose family belongs to Sts. Joseph and Paul Parish in Owensboro, shared a picture of her children outside their home decorated with Easter lights on Holy Saturday night. At the center, on the ground, her children’s baptismal candles are displayed in the family’s Advent wreath. The green porch light is lit in solidarity with Kentuckians who had died from COVID-19. COURTESY OF SUSAN MONTALVO-GESSER

Daniel Gray, son of Matt and Nicole Gray from Immaculate Parish in Owensboro, shows off his and his fathers “cross of lights” they built. “We wanted to use the image of a cross to represent Jesus’s unconditional love for us and that He is The Light of the world!” writes Nicole Gray. COURTESY OF NICOLE GRAY

Originally printed in the May 2020 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

Copyright © 2020 Diocese of Owensboro/The Western Kentucky Catholic

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