We were blessed to have a priest, Fr.Harrison Ayre, to celebrate the Easter Vigil with us, last Saturday evening, along with his companion, from Victoria, Jim. Jim wrote a summary of Saturdays events and so I would like to share his words with you. [Hopefully I will be able to get an update from our end of things, being that it must be close to going on 4 or 5 weeks now. There will be some more shortly:) Along with lots of pictures!]
In the words of Jim: Fr. Harrison and I travelled to Telegraph Creek early Easter Saturday morning where he was to conduct the Easter Vigil. We arrived at Josh and Denise’s place by 11:30am. They provide Lay Ministry to community of TC and the house that they live in is the rectory for St. Theresa’s Catholic Church. The house is only a few steps away from the church. Denise made us a lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches, raw carrots and sliced apples. Josh and Fr. Harrison were getting their plans together for the Easter Vigil Mass and I was hanging out with Kateri, Gianna, Isaiah and baby Aliz watching Disney youtube movies, on my tablet, while Denise started preparing the after mass potluck stew. Denise came into the living room to say we may not be able to have Mass today. I asked why not and she said there was a grass fire… I didn’t think a grass fire would be that serious, but it turned out that the long dry grass that lay on the rocky ground quickly caught fire and spread at an amazing speed up the hillside behind the house about 1000 meters away. Luckily, the wind was pushing it away from the houses and up the hillside. The fire was moving fast and we could see from the window the flames licking their way towards the top. The fire reached a large bush and instantly, the bush combusted. This looked very serious because the whole area was super dry and the forested edge at the top of this long hill if caught would be a major disaster. The local volunteer firefighters had their one firetruck on the scene quickly and I saw Josh at a distance dragging a fire hose up the hill trying to get ahead of the fire, but the fire soon outran the scope of the hose. Word came that the community should evacuate to the school. I told Denise that I would stay, while she took the children, and finish the stew and if the fire came close, I would take the car and drive to the school. It must have been an hour or so later that Denise phoned to say that fire had been contained and she and the children would be home soon. Luckily the volunteers had managed to get to the top of the hill and dig a fire trench to try to stop the fire from reaching the forest edge which was at the crown of the hill. The fire had died out at the trenches, probably due to thinning spots of grass and luckily, before it could reach the big trees. The timing couldn’t have been better because the Easter Vigil was soon to start.
The Easter Vigil starts with a blessing of fire outside the church. Earlier Josh and I had made a fire pit with an old truck rim embeded in the ground. Fr. Harrison blessed the fire and the cerimonial lighting of the large Paschal Candle started with a prayer. Each member of the congregation, small as it was, gathered around the Paschal Candle holding a long, thin, tapered candle with a round paper shield affixed, to prevent hot wax from reaching their hands.
The procedure was to light each members candle and process into the church. However, the wind wasn’t co-operating so we had to light the small candles in the lobby of the church. Josh lead the procession with the Therible ( the vessel that contains the aromatic incense), Fr. Harrison was next with the Paschal Candle and I next with the Alter missal. The lobby was small and the idea was after all the candles were lit we would, in procession-like fashion, move up the church aisle to the Altar. Behind me in the crowed lobby was Kateri, Gianna and Denise with Isaiah in her arms, and the rest of the congregation. We were all packed quite close in the lobby of the church waiting to proceed up the aisle. Suddenly, Denise yelled “Kateri!” I turned to see Kateri’s hair on fire. Because every one was bunched up in the little vestible of the church, Gianna’s candle had got too close to Kateri and the candle flame had caught the wispy ends of Kateri’s long beautilful blonde hair. It flared up immediately from the bottom of her shoulder length hair to the top of her scalp in a burst of brilliant orange flame. Kateri had no idea what was happening . I was stunned and paralyzed holding the large missal, but Denise quickly extinghised the fire in Kateri’s hair with a couple of smothering swats. Kateri had no idea what was happening… There remained a contrasting vertical ridge of black burnt ash clinging to Kateri’s blonde hair. The fire was out but Denise kept swatting at Kateri’s hair… Kateri had not felt anything but soon realized what had happened… It happened so quickly and Denise had put the fire out so quick that it was like it had never happened… Denise scolded Gianna for holding the candle so close to Kateri and forced a smile for Kateri’s sake so she wouldn’t realize how serious the matter was… Kateri soon did and started crying…
Every one was in shock… Denise led Katirie out of the church lobby, and back the house, still carrying Isaiah, Josh quickly followed Denise with Gianna, leaving the Therible where it stood. The dramatic event was over and Fr. Harrison, realizing that Kateri was not hurt but only shocked, continued the service proceeding up the aisle with the rest of the congregation. Shortly after the service started, Denise, Josh, Kateri and the rest of the children returned. Kateri’s hair had been washed and brushed and looked no more worse for wear. Quite lucky.
During the homily, Fr. Harrison quite appropriately used “Fire” as his theme…
All in all, Kateri was okay and what hair had caught on fire was insignificant and not noticable. She soon forgot all about the incident and was playing with the other kids later at the after church pot luck.