Effort of evangelization draws attention to St. Anthony

Jerry Naunheim Jr.

Bells rang and the parish choir led the Litany of Saints as pastor Father Sebastian Mundackal and the altar servers led parishioners out of the church after Sunday Mass and onto the street. A statue of St. Anthony was carried at the end of the procession.

High Ridge Boulevard was blocked in both directions June 8 as members of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in High Ridge held a procession, witnessing their Catholic faith to the community.

The procession and a gathering in the cafeteria drew attention to the feast of St. Anthony, celebrated June 13. Cake was served at the gathering inside, and "Happy Feast Day" was sung to the tune of "Happy Birthday."

The day also was a celebration of Pentecost and the first Mass for Deacon Jim G'Sell, who was ordained a permanent deacon the previous day at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. (See Living Our Faith, page 11)

The procession brings the parishioners' faith outside the church walls, while the celebration of the feast draws people closer together, said parishioner Dennis Gearon. The procession and celebration is an annual observance, begun by Father Mundackal in 2010. He had found a need to inspire parishioners, Gearon said. The parish also holds Stations of the Cross outdoors in Lent.

Another parishioner, Margie Krupinski, said St. Anthony is a favorite saint, noting the appeal she and others make to him in helping find lost items. The procession, she noted, "is a new form of evangelization, what the pope is telling people to do."

Gabe Schoenberger, 12, one of the altar servers, said the procession shows how "people can pray together as one mind." Matt Spicer, who has been a part of the parish for about 16 years, said parishioners have formed close ties and are happy to "show our faith in the community."

Father Mundackal, in his homily, cited the three-fold celebration that day. Pentecost, he noted, shows the importance of the language of love: "It is the language all men, women and children can understand. God is love and unites everyone."

He gave examples, including smiles to greet a stranger or a hug when someone experiences a loss. "That is a language that binds us together. It is the language of the Holy Spirit. We are all one, and the power of the Holy Spirit brings us together today," Father Mundackal said.

St. Anthony completed a church renovation last year that was preceded by installation of a new roof and landscaping. The church renovation added a gathering space outside the worship area with new tile floor and a restroom. The mechanical work for the HVAC system was moved underneath the church. Arches were added along with artwork, some of it done by a parishioner.

St. Anthony has an active St. Vincent de Paul conference which staffs a food pantry, a parish school of religion, youth group, a preschool and other ministries.

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