Hundreds from parishes and affiliated diocesan organizations gathered on Ash Wednesday – Feb. 26 -- for Mass at St. Agnes + Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Cleveland to celebrate the holy day and hear revivalist Father Oscar Pratt.
The theme of the three-day revival, “Who Am I?” began with a musical arrangement by the diocesan gospel choir who opened with a call to worship that encouraged attendees to “enter in.”
“I don’t know about you, but I would say this is how you kick off Lent,” said Father Pratt, who traveled from the Archdiocese of Boston to celebrate. He thanked the choir and musicians for their talents and shared that he hears God through joyous praise. Father Pratt credits his family for bringing him up in a house filled with music that empowered the spirit of Christ.
He led his homily with a call and response to the worship song, “God is so good (You are worthy)” and connected the words of the song to the meaning behind the theme of the revival between the verses.
Father Pratt then posed a question to those who filled the pews and aisles: “How do you answer, Who am I? Do you ever respond with, God knows who I am; I am his?”
In his reflection, Father Pratt took attendees back to their childhood, noting that from a very young age many are misled about who they are as individuals. He explained that actions like name-calling, defining characteristics, living situations or placing an importance on success – all of these only give an impression of what a person would be worth.
He reminded the congregation that Lent is the time to pay witness to the true calling of being Catholic and return to Christ, removing the stains of what might have happened in life.
“The struggle for 40 days is worth it for God to revive us. The one that created us is calling us back,” Father Pratt said.
He returns Feb. 27 and 28 for the remaining two nights of the revival to connect Scripture to the revival theme, providing attendees with a chance to talk and ask questions more informally.
Cary Dabney, director for the diocesan office of ministry to African American Catholics, greeted the large crowd and encouraged everyone to let the spirit empower them not only during the evening, but throughout Lent.
“It is always good to gather,” said Dabney, “especially at this time – a time the Lord has set aside for us.”
With many visitors in attendance, Dabney asked everyone to greet those around them they may not know as a sign of peace and support during a season of renewal.