First ‘Culture of Encounter’ Holy Hour Unites Families in Prayer

Father Christopher Zelonis leads the first “Culture of Encounter” holy hour at St. Michael the Archangel, Minersville. (Photos by John Simitz)

By TARA CONNOLLY  Staff writer

The first “Culture of Encounter” Family Holy Hour brought families together Nov. 5 in an effort to come to know one another better at St. Michael the Archangel, Minersville.

The holy hour, led by Father Christopher Zelonis, pastor, set the stage for an estimated 50 holy hours that are planned through October 2018 across the five-county Diocese of Allentown.

The holy hours were organized by the Diocesan Office of Youth, Young Adult and Family Ministry to highlight the gift of encounters with one another and God, which has been forgotten by a culture of technology.

The encounters, which occur in a special way through liturgy, prayer, Scripture and fellowship, deepen the presence between a person and God, parents and children, and parish families.

Basing his reflection on the scriptural rosary – the prayer of Joyful mysteries, Sorrowful mysteries, Glorious mysteries and the Luminous mysteries – Father Zelonis focused on the fifth Glorious mystery and led meditation on the Bible passage “For those who find me, find life, and win favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 8:35).

“In the rosary meditations, these words are placed in the mouth of Mary, but the original author wrote them as ‘words of wisdom’ personified,” he said.

“Catholics and Orthodox in particular hold Our Lady in profound reverence for being the ‘seat of wisdom,’ for her womb became a throne for the Word made flesh.”

Through Mary, said Father Zelonis, God made his voice to the world heard – making Mary crucial to his plan.

“In these holy hours we are invited to encounter – to ‘find’ – life in the Word of God that Mary spoke to us. It is good that our Diocese has begun this series in the centenary year of Our Lady of Fatima,” he said.

Father Zelonis told the faithful that the rosary has long been considered a Marian devotion, a “weapon for peace” and a tool for meditation.

“Mary’s message to the world, wherever she has spoken it, has always been the same: ‘Be converted. Turn to my Son and turn away from sin. Make peace,” he said.

“By meditating on the mysteries of our redemption in Christ, through the experience and reflections of Mary, our hearts are properly oriented to love of God and neighbor,” said Father Zelonis.

The holy hours also follow Pope Francis’ desire for faithful to reach out, foster dialogue and friendship outside the usual circles, and to make a special point of encountering people who are neglected and ignored by the wider world.

Upcoming Family Holy Hours

Family Holy Hours will be hosted every month between November 2017 and October 2018. The next upcoming holy hours will be:

  • Lehigh Deanery – Sunday, Nov. 26, 3 p.m., St. Paul Church, 920 S. Second St., Allentown.
  • Berks Deanery – Sunday, Dec. 3, 11:15 a.m., Most Blessed Sacrament Church, 610 Pine St., Bally.
  • Northampton Deanery – Sunday, Dec. 3, 1 p.m., St. Anne Church, 450 E. Washington Ave., Bethlehem.
  • Schuylkill/Carbon Deaneries – Sunday, Dec. 10, 11 a.m., Divine Mercy at St. Casimir Church, 229 N. Jardin St., Shenandoah.

For the complete upcoming list, click here.

To receive text reminders on your mobile phone about upcoming Family Holy Hours , text the wording below to the number 81010.

  • For the Schuylkill/Carbon region, text @SchuylCar
  • For the Berks region, text @BerksFHH to the same 81010.
  • For Lehigh, text @LehighFHH.
  • For Northampton, text @NorthFHH.