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Friday, January 11, 2008

Special Mardi moments

Seven years ago, John Manno Jr. gave the Mardi Gras in the Ark-La-Tex krewes a wonderful and very special gift — the Twelfth Night Mass. Krewe members affectionately refer to it as "Mardi Gras Mass."

It is held at St. Pius Catholic Church in North Shreveport.

It is one of my favorite parts of the Mardi season.

Manno and wife Lynne and his parents John A. and Angelina Manno arrange for the service and host a King Cake reception afternoon in a church reception area. Manno said the Knights of Columbus and the Ladies Guild also assist in the endeavor.

Catholics and non-Catholic krewe members arrived in their decorated jackets, and all of us received beads given out by Knights of Columbus members as we stepped into the church.

The presiding priest, Msgr. Earl Provenza — explained that only Catholics can take communion, but anyone is welcome to approach the priest. So, for communion we non-Catholics then crossed our arms in front of our chests, bowed our heads and received a blessing.

This year also, Provenza asked all those in Mardi jackets to gather outside, walk down the aisle two-by-two and stand behind the altar.

Later, as Provenza later went through the consecration of the water and the wine for communion, he asked everyone to join him in the altar area.

Krewe members are made up of a very diverse individuals. So there they — and I joined them — were: Professionals and blue collar workers ... Rich and poor and in between ... Believers from a wide range of religious disclipines — and those who didn’t believe at all. Very conservative to very liberal ... Very young to much older ... Full-time workers to retired ones.

Mardi Gras events can get pretty rambunctious, but no one moved behind that altar and you could have heard a pin drop.

But, the most moving moment of all came when Provenza asked all of us to recite the Lord’s Prayer. In a spontaneous move almost as one, we all took each other’s hands.

And, there was more than one eye filled with tears when it was over.
The thoughts, of course, were private, but those moments probably gave rise to some powerful musings.

Mannos, St. Pius, Knights and laides: What a gift you give us.

I thank you!


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