‘Let There Be Light’: CNEWA Visits Massachusetts

Deacon Greg Kandra and Christopher Kennedy visited the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro, Massachusetts.

“It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” These words, spoken frequently around CNEWA’s development department, are a good reminder that we, through our donors’ support, can bring the light of hope to children and families in some of the world’s darkest places.

The phrase, however, can also be interpreted literally. Nowhere is this more evident, perhaps, than at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette, in Attleboro, Massachusetts, where over 300,000 Christmas lights shine brightly, illuminating a nativity scene, Stations of the Cross, and just about every tree and bush in sight.

Deacon Greg Kandra and I were invited to speak at the Shrine on 10 December, for an Advent reflection appropriately titled, “Let There Be Light: Bringing Healing and Hope to the Middle East.” Together, we shared stories of our remarkable partners in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon — people such as the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, and Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil. Attendees included deacons from the Dioceses of Worcester and Fall River making a retreat, as well as members of Knights of Columbus councils from the area.

We were there at the kind invitation of the shrine’s director, the Rev. Ted Brown, M.S., who was eager to welcome people from the area to learn more about CNEWA and how they can get more involved in our work. We were deeply gratified by the response — especially from those who promised to tell their parish families about our work.

With Father Ted’s kind hospitality, we also had time to tour the Shrine grounds. The lights turn on at 5 p.m. each evening, preceded by a recitation of the “Our Father” and the singing of “Silent Night.”

The Shrine also includes the International Crèche Museum, a display of hundreds of crèches of a variety of sizes, materials, and countries of origin. Most notably for this writer of Québecois descent, the cafeteria featured Tourtiere, a meat pie of French-Canadian origin.

Overall, like every chance to bring CNEWA’s mission to new people, it was a wonderful visit. Each and every time I travel the country to share our work is truly a blessing and a reminder from God to keep lighting candles in the darkness.

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