Holy Week with the NPH Family

The Holy Week is focal event in the NPH calendar, which is celebrated throughout the nine homes, to help children learn about the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ, and also enjoy the Easter vacation.
April 8, 2021 - NPH International

Father Phillip Cleary washing the children's feet at Casa San Salvador, Miacatlan, Chapel, to represent the apostles.
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Whether a family is bound by blood, marriage, or compassion, its role is to make you feel whole. Your family helps you to feel loved, safe and secure. It is your compass, shaping your responsibility, morality, and spirituality. Without it, you would surely lose your way.

Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos is a large family. In 2020 alone, almost 3,000 children and young people were supported through NPH residential services in the nine countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, which are supported by donors and sponsors from around the world. The NPH family was founded in 1953 by Fr. William Wasson in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and still today, the organization stays close to its Christian roots, providing spiritual development programs and also celebrating the Christian calendar, especially Holy Week.

In the past 14 months, the lockdowns caused by COVID-19 have disrupted the lives of the young ones living in the homes and communities. While the pandemic continues to cause problems in the countries which NPH serves, its staff, children, and youths did their best to come together and celebrate Holy Week with a range of festivities and games to enjoy the season.

Mexico

High school children at the Miacatlan home went on a trip with a caregiver to cut the palm branches to be used in the Palm Sunday celebrations. At Casa San Salvador in Miacatlan, Father Phillip Cleary gave Mass with the youngest children on the Saturday before Palm Sunday. However, on the actual Palm Sunday, he celebrated Mass at Casa Buen Señor in Cuernavaca with the adolescents, which students from the university home in Monterrey also attended virtually through a live internet transmission.

On Maundy Thursday, the high school youths from Casa Buen Señor traveled to Casa San Salvador, where they spent the holy days with the younger children. The Thursday Mass was celebrated in the chapel, where children represented the apostles and Father Philip washed their feet. At the end of the Mass, children and adolescents were treated to a special meal of “carnitas” (Mexico's version of pulled pork) with rice and tortillas.

On Good Friday, children attended Mass at noon, then enjoyed some recreational activities. The Easter Sunday Mass was observed at dawn, commemorating the resurrection of Christ. After this came the week’s most anticipated activity: the Easter egg hunt, which had children searching all over the home. They also received chocolate eggs and donuts as gifts.

Written by Daniel Zapata

Haiti

During the past 12 months, NPH Haiti has had to overcome many challenges resulting from political and civil unrest, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the children and staff were determined to celebrate Holy Week despite the current problems. There were three Easter celebrations held for 30 child and youth residents helped by the NPH Haiti Special Needs Program at Kay Christine, which brought great joy to everyone.

The main religious event was “Pâques des Jeunes” (“Easter for Youths”), held at the Kenscoff home. Over 200 children took part in this Easter story reenactment organized by the Salesian Sisters and young NPH leaders. The Kay Christine residents were especially excited to participate. They watched a film about Jesus’s life after returning to their home.

Easter Sunday was extra special because Father Rick came to say Mass. Myriame, one of the youth leaders, played a vital role in preparing everyone for the service, while also teaching the NPH Haiti family a new dance.

Traditional meals also played a big part in Holy Week celebrations. On Good Friday, children had a special meal of fish with rice, navy beans, and a salad. The children were treated to another feast on Easter Sunday, a turkey meal that everyone enjoyed.

This year there were two Easter egg hunts: one for children and another for staff, which created much excitement. Gena Heraty, Coordinator of the Special Needs Program at NPH Haiti, says, “We usually hide the eggs in the house; you can imagine the chaos when they searched for those! This year we hid the eggs in the backyard. It is always wonderful to see people laughing and having fun. A little Easter bonus given for finding each egg is a small way to make the burden of life a little bit easier on this day.”

“God is good. We are “Easter people” at Kay Christine. We live through many Good Fridays when our children suffer and we are like Mary, helpless at the foot of the cross. But in prayer, song, and love, we always keep the Easter flame alive in our home and our heart. We enjoy many resurrections,” concludes Gena.

Written by Gena Heraty

Honduras

On Palm Sunday, more than 200 children gathered to welcome the most important week of the year. On Maundy Thursday, the children went to a Mass that explained the Eucharist and were able to participate in the washing of feet, as Jesus did with the apostles. Then on Good Friday morning, the children reenacted the Via Crucis around the Rancho Santa Fe, many playing the role of biblical characters. In the afternoon, they attended a special ritual which involves the worshipping of the cross at the San José church, where children say their prayers. On Holy Saturday, the children prepared for the Easter Vigil, when besides lighting their candles, 14 girls and six boys were baptized.

Written by Keyla Suazo

Peru

NPH Peru had to cancel many of its Easter festivities this year due to COVID-19 protocols requiring that the children and youths remain quarantined in their homes. However, children still were able to celebrate Palm Sunday thanks to Yuliza Peralta, a catechetical volunteer. They re-enacted the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, with kindergarteners playing Jesus and the apostles. Then there was a celebration where the caregivers and children read excerpts from the Gospel of Saint Matthew to deepen their understanding of Palm Sunday’s meaning.

Sherlin*, a 17-year-old who assisted Yuliza and is currently completing his year of service at NPH Peru, says that “Palm Sunday is a time to proclaim Jesus as the fundamental pillar in our lives, just as Jerusalem did when they received him and hailed him the Son of God”.

“It is a day when Jesus knocks on the door of our hearts and we receive him with infinite joy and faith. I especially enjoyed this day because I helped Yuliza in planning the whole program for the other boys and girls,” adds Sherlin.

Written by Erick Nery

Guatemala

The Easter week at NPH Guatemala got off to a colorful start with the children preparing the traditional “alfombras” – vibrant carpets made of colored sawdust and sand that line the pathways around Casa San Andres. The alfombras depict religious figures and symbols, which are then walked upon during the Way of the Cross later in the week.

Children attended the Palm Sunday Mass, and then had some fun activities like a volleyball tournament, as well as a reptile show, a storyteller, and an interactive children’s music group.

Towards the end of the week, the activities focused on the spiritual rituals of Holy Week, such as the commemoration of the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Written by Thomas Hartig

El Salvador

Father Raymond Webb traveled from Chicago, USA, to NPH El Salvador to celebrate Holy Week, starting with Palm Sunday. It was an active week, where youths enjoyed a pool party, while also taking part in religious activities, such as the Via Crucis. Easter Mass took place in the soccer field while the attendees witnessed the sunrise.

Dora Serrano, National Director of NPH El Salvador, says, “This has been a very difficult time for the whole world; the future has been uncertain. However, despite the situation, I am glad that we are all well and able to celebrate this special time. As Father Wasson always taught us, “We need to see and practice love, and the great proof of love is the Resurrection of Jesus.”

Written by Carmina Salazar

Nicaragua

Every year, there is a great build-up to Holy Week at Casa Padre Wasson. Although NPH Nicaragua has had to adjust from providing residential programs to focus on more on preventative programs in the community, National Director Marlon Velasquez ensured that the home maintained its Easter traditions.

During the 40 days of Lent, the school’s students participated in spiritual retreats and Stations of the Cross to help them develop their Christian faith. On 21 March, a group of children, staff, and parents from the community went on a pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Jesús del Rescate in Popoyuapa to thank Jesus for granting their personal requests.

Written by Aristides Manzanarez

Dominican Republic

During Holy Week, NPH Dominican Republic held activities with help from the five nuns from the Hijas de la Madre de Dios (Daughters of the Mother of God) community, who have worked with the youths at Casa Santa Ana for the past 15 years. The children took part in the religious activities all through Holy Week.

Renée*, a 12-year old girl who has lived at NPH Dominican Republic since she was three, says, “For me, Easter is a time of reflection and asking forgiveness from our Lord Jesus Christ. During these days, the passage from death to life is celebrated, a life that Jesus offers to his faithful by opening the doors of heaven. It is the best time to repent of our sins, ask for forgiveness, and cleanse our hearts.”

Written by Adonis Pio

Bolivia

During Holy Week, the children and staff of NPH Bolivia reflected on the recent difficulties faced by nearby communities after some damaging storms. The children and their NPH family still celebrated with shared meals and Easter songs.

The Easter festivities began on Palm Sunday, with Father Bolo celebrating Mass. On Good Friday, the youths re-enacted the Via Crucis in a pilgrimage through the houses of Casa Padre Wasson. Saturday was a time for reflection and prayer at the chapel, followed by recreational activities. On Holy Sunday, the home celebrated the resurrection of Jesus, and the younger children had fun with a giant Easter egg hunt.

Written by Rodrigo Pererya

*Children’s names have been changed to protect the privacy of the youth.

Easter is an important time of year for the NPH family. Make an impact on the spiritual development of our children in the nine countries where we serve. Make a donation. Visit: NPH International.

Nicholas Rogers   
Communications Manager of NPH International

 

 

 

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