Early distribution of Easter lilies, palms a sign of hope in Westville, Georgetown

Father Timothy Sauppé, pastor of St. Mary in Westville and St. Isaac Jogues in Georgetown, holds a blessed palm in front of tables with 400 Easter lilies that are available for pick up by every household of his two parishes ahead of Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter. (Provided photo)

WESTVILLE — Normally, Father Timothy Sauppé would not have 400 Easter lilies in his parish center a week before Palm Sunday. But this is not a normal Lent.

So the pastor of St. Mary, Westville, and St. Isaac Jogues, Georgetown, purchased a plant for every registered household of both faith communities. And he is inviting a representative of each to stop by the St. Mary Parish Center in the coming days to pick up a symbol of hope and Jesus’ victory — keeping proper social distancing, of course.

The Easter lilies ready for pick up at the St. Mary Parish Center in Westville. (Provided photo)

Also for pick up will be blessed palms and a letter from their pastor “as we prepare for a Palm Sunday and an Easter isolated at home.”

“See in this Easter lily hope,” said Father Sauppé in his letter. “See in this lily that God is good and that He loves you. Let this lily be a shining symbol of Easter even in what may be dark or darker times ahead.”

He encouraged parishioners to post individual or family pictures holding their palms and lily on the parishes’ Facebook page.

“Leave a positive message for others,” he encouraged. “And when the lily’s time is over — plant it! Plant it with hope.”

A CALL TO REPENTANCE

Father Sauppé is mindful that we’re still in Lent. His letter calls upon his parishioners to “not let this opportunity pass.”

“We may frequently wash our hands with soap and water, but only the blood of Christ can wash away our sins,” he writes. “And so, as your pastor, I call upon you now to repent. Get right with God. Forgive your brother and sister while you have the time.”

“See in this lily that God is good and that He loves you. Let this lily be a shining symbol of Easter even in what may be dark or darker times ahead.” — Father Timothy Sauppé

Like many priests and parishes, Father Sauppé will offer “drive-through” confessions in the St. Mary parking lot during Holy Week.

His letter to parishioners addressed them not only as parish members but as “global citizens facing a global scourge” — the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At no other time in the history of the Catholic Church has such a situation occurred where from Rome round (the globe) have churches and other public buildings been laid empty — truly a shared universal or catholic moment not just for us, but for all humanity.”

He called his parishioners to prayer. Father Sauppé especially encouraged the rosary, Scripture reading, viewing televised or live streamed Masses, and watching faith-inspired movies such as “The Passion of the Christ.” He signed the letter “Your unseen pastor.”

SPREADING THE WORD

The pastor’s original plan was to be in the parking lot overseeing the distribution of palms and lilies on Palm Sunday and Easter. But he decided to get the lilies, which are delicate and have a limited bloom life, in the hands and homes of parishioners as early as possible.

He is using the app “myParish,” the Facebook site, and a direct mailing to spread the invitation.

Father Sauppé expressed gratitude to Lizzie’s Garden, a Naperville-based greenhouse, for their assistance with the lily delivery. He said the owner reported that many churches canceled their floral orders because their congregations would not be gathering this Easter.

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
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