By Pamela Seal
Diocese of Lake Charles
LAKE CHARLES — The Diocese of Lake Charles will host “Festival of Nations: Celebrating the Epiphany of the Lord” on Saturday, January 7, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church. With a special focus on the National Eucharistic Revival, the event will offer families an opportunity to embrace traditions of other countries, but more importantly, to come together to adore the Lord.
The Guadalupe Dancers from the Hispanic community at St. Henry Catholic Church will kick off the festivities outdoors, followed by a colorful entrance of flags representing nearly 30 countries, inside Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish Founders’ Hall.
According to tradition, the Three Wise Men (or Three Kings) arrive in Bethlehem from the Far East to meet Jesus Christ, the newborn King of the Jews. The Feast of the Epiphany traditionally marks the end of the 12 days of Christmas. In many U.S. dioceses, the liturgical celebration is transferred to the nearest Sunday, this year on January 8.
“Two thousand years ago, the Three Kings followed the star of Bethlehem to adore the Lord. In doing so, they were blessed,” said Very Rev. Rojo Koonathan, HGN, V.F., Eucharistic Revival committee chairman for Ethnic Communities. “The Three Kings are going to lead us with the star as we process to the church for Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction.”
Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar — the names of the Three Kings — bring three symbolic gifts with them to give to Jesus: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. While the celebrations vary from one country to another, the tradition of gifts will be carried out by distributing toys and candy to all children attending the Eucharistic Revival event.
“The main focus is spending time adoring the Lord,” said Father Koonathan, “so before the gifts are given to the children, we will spend time in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction.”
Father Koonathan said that when the kings offered gifts to the infant Jesus, they were blessed.
“In Benediction, that’s what will happen. The kings will lead us to adore the Lord, and we will receive a blessing,” he said.
Entertainment will feature a cultural show including an array of talent, with traditional songs, regional costumes, and traditional dances from countries such as the Philippines, Venezuela, Nigeria, and Mexico.
Guests can take their tastebuds on a tour with cuisine from Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico, India, Venezuela, and even a mix of Cajun and African American flavor to spice things up.
“The Catholic Church is made up of different ethnicities around the world,” said Father Koonathan. “We will have different nations all coming together to represent the nations of the Gentiles.”
The Festival of Nations will be a meaningful way to celebrate the coming of the Magi, and like the Three Kings, return to our own homes a different way with courage to always follow the light of Christ and carry it to those along our journey.
“The hope is that people who attend the Epiphany celebration will in turn share their blessing with others,” Father Koonathan said.
All are welcome and encouraged to take part. Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church is located at 2031 Opelousas Street in Lake Charles. For more information, call 337-436-8093, or visit Roman Catholic Diocese of Lake Charles on Facebook.