Story and photos by Carolee McGrath
FEEDING HILLS – Gray skies and light rain would at least deter most from venturing to an outdoor event.
But that was not the case here the evening of Aug. 22 as more than 200 people attended the second annual “Faith on Fire” event.
The charismatic prayer service was held Aug. 21 and 22 at Sacred Heart Parish, here, from 6 to 9.p.m. Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski braved the weather too.
“Do you like the liquid sunshine this evening?” asked the bishop, joking with the crowd. “First of all, I thank you for your witness of faith, for praising the Lord. I thank the members here for their hospitality,” he told the crowd.
Bishop Rozanski, installed Aug. 12 as the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, has been on the road since, meeting with Catholics across the diocese. He said the “Faith on Fire” prayer service is a great way for Catholics to witness to their faith.
“I think Pope Benedict Emeritus reminded us that our faith is based on that personal relationship with the Lord Jesus; that our whole church exists to be Jesus in the world,” Bishop Rozanski told iobserve.
“Unless we have that personal relationship with Jesus, then we really don’t get the fullness of the message. That’s what our faith is all about,” he said. “That’s what the sacraments are all about and having that personal relationship with Jesus and growing in that personal relationship.”
The Hampden West Deanery and the Diocese of Springfield’s Catholic Charismatic Renewal sponsored the event. The evening included speakers; praise and worship music by Joseph Reed and Synergy; a eucharistic procession; the sacrament of reconciliation; and a healing service with the laying on of hands.
Edina and Jason Rubin, both parishioners at Sacred Heart Parish, shared their testimony. The couple has two children and one on the way.
“I grew up in Brazil in the Catholic Church. I kind of fell away from God a little bit,” said Edina Rubin. “At some point in my life, I started feeling a little sad and depressed and then, when I came back to the church at the prayer meeting at Sacred Heart, I just fell in love with the Lord again,” she continued.
Edina’s husband, Jason, is a convert to the faith. “I grew up Jewish,” he said. “I had my Bar Mitzvah and celebrated the Jewish holidays, Passover, Hanukkah, and Yom Kippur.” He told the crowd that when he met his wife, he started attending church with her on occasion. He said that after he saw the movie "The Passion of the Christ,” he started on a journey, which led him to the Catholic Church.
“I started to attend church more often. I went to some Life in the Spirit seminars, and on the fifth day of the first seminar I was prayed over,” Rubin continued. “I heard God speak to me and He said, ‘Jason, I would like for you to be baptized in the Catholic religion.’”
Rubin was initiated into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil Liturgy on Holy Saturday 2013.
His story was inspiring not only to the many adults in the crowd, but to the teens in attendance as well. Erin Harlow, 13, is a member Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish in Westfield. She is also a member of the parish’s youth group called the JPII Crew.
“I wanted to come (to the faith on Fire event) because I want to get my relationship with Christ deeper. I really enjoy listening to the music and being part of adoration,” said Harlow. She added that she’s proud to share her faith, even though that opens her up to criticism.
“I don’t care what people think. This is what I like to do. This is really me. I don’t want to change who I am just because kids don’t think it’s cool.”
There was no admission for the event. The Catholic Charismatic Renewal sponsors other events throughout the year including prayer groups and an October retreat.
For more on this story, tune into an upcoming edition of “Real to Reel,” the Diocese of Springfield’s television newsmagazine that airs Saturday evenings at 7 on WWLP-22NEWS.