WASHINGTON (CNS) — Members of St. Anne Parish in Cow Island, Louisiana, gave their neighbors a Christmas blessing from the heavens, so to speak.
Working with a local crop-dusting service, a young parishioner, 70 other parishioners and their pastor, Father Matthew Barzare, coordinated to have holy water sprayed Dec. 21 over the unincorporated community and nearby farms about 30 miles southeast of Lafayette.
About 100 gallons of water, blessed by Father Barzare, were used in giving the spiritual gift to the residents. The parish, a school and other important places in Cow Island received a light spray of water.
“It’s one of those ways to ask God’s blessing upon our community, upon our land. We’re very much tied to our land in Louisiana,” Father Barzare, 32, told Catholic News Service.
The flying service has asked to remain anonymous.
Parishioners in the community in the Diocese of Lafayette provided the water from their homes and other sources and Father Barzare blessed their contributions. Parishioners gathered for Mass first and then participated in a brief prayer service during where the plane and water were blessed before going airborne.
The flight was the idea of parishioner LeRyn Detraz, 23, who now is working with the Damascus Catholic Mission Campus in central Ohio.
“She wanted to bring the community together,” said Father Barzare. “I said let’s roll with it.”
Detraz said the idea to do something for her hometown community came during prayer.
“I was in Ohio and my heart was breaking for our community (in Cow Island). I was carrying a little bit of guilt maybe being a missionary in Ohio and felt I should be doing missionary work in Louisiana,” she said.
The project took a couple of months to organize and the timing of the flight matched the timetable of when priests traditionally bless farmlands in southern Louisiana.
Farmers raise wheat, rice and sugar cane in the growing season and use the land to farm crayfish beginning in the fall around Thanksgiving, Father Barzare said.
After discussing her idea with Father Barzare, Detraz set off to identify a company that would carry out the plan. The company volunteered its time and services for the effort.
Detraz expressed joy that the project was carried out. She said she plans to return to Cow Island when her two years with Damascus is completed in 2021.
Father Barzare said the community wanted to be assured the tanks being used to hold the blessed water were clean of any chemicals used in crop-dusting.
“We trusted the business to decontaminate it,” he said.
The priest does not expect the blessing to be a one-off event, saying, “We want to do it annually.”
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103