LEWISTON---The popular, nightly Facebook Live session hosted by Fr. Daniel Greenleaf and fellow priests of the Lewiston area on the Prince of Peace Parish Facebook page welcomed a special guest on Friday night, April 3.
“Thank you for having me and letting me connect with everyone,” said Bishop Robert P. Deeley, who called into the session from home. “All of these means of social media are a godsend. What would we have done without all of this to connect us? We have been blessed.”
Fr. Greenleaf, pastor of Prince of Peace Parish in Lewiston, Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Sabattus, and Holy Trinity Parish in Lisbon Falls, was joined in the rectory “studio” on Friday by parish priests Fr. Johnson Sacreties Panneer Selvam, HGN ("Fr. John") and Fr. Selvaraj Kasi, HGN ("Fr. Selvaraj"), as well as Fr. Benedict Faneye, OP, who serves in the Department of Pastoral Care at Central Maine Medical Center.
On Friday, the group followed the lead of Facebook commenters who wrote in with questions during the conversation with the bishop, including several who asked how to approach Holy Week this year in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We are very blessed that we have the ability to live-stream our Masses and ceremonies, but we’ve been at this isolation now for two, two and a half weeks,” said Bishop Deeley. “Kids have been home from school. Everyone is working from home. There is a lot of added pressure, so Holy Week is an important week for us to ask the Lord to bear this cross so that we may know the hope that Easter gives us and the promise that it gives us of new life as we look forward to the end of this situation and crisis.”
Another point of discussion was Palm Sunday this weekend and the decision to not distribute palms at churches due to the crisis. Bishop Deeley suggested that parishioners consider following the idea being promoted by Fr. Lou Phillips, the pastor of parishes in Gorham, Windham, and Westbrook.
“Fr. Lou Phillips is having ‘Pine Sunday’ this year. I think it is unique, especially during the 200th anniversary of the Pine Tree State,” said the bishop. “His idea is for everyone to take a branch from one of our beautiful pine trees, bring it in, and put it behind the crucifix in your house. Put it where the palm branch would normally go. The lack of the palm will remind us of the cross that we have borne and the difficulty we have undergone.”
The bishop asked for God’s blessings on the viewers in the hopes that Holy Week will be a time for them to renew themselves.
“Also, let it be a time to renew our appreciation of the love that God has for each and every one of us and his great gift of his son, Jesus, who shows that love for us in the passion and death we celebrate this week and in the resurrection to new life at Easter.”
In addition to the bishop’s visit, Fr. Greenleaf and the priests offered prayers for Central Maine Medical Center and for commenters and people in the parish community who had submitted special prayer requests during the day. The Facebook Live session can be seen each night from 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on the parish’s Facebook page.
To find a list of live-streamed Masses and liturgies scheduled at Maine parishes during Holy Week, visit www.portlanddiocese.org/HolyWeekLiveStreaming. To view a special page dedicated to the latest news, live prayer opportunities, an updated list of drive-through confessions, and a variety of faith resources, visit the Diocese of Portland’s COVID-19 response page at www.portlanddiocese.org/content/response-coronavirus.