WILMINGTON — A Catholic tradition is back once again in Wilmington as seven city churches are teaming up for the annual Holy Thursday in the City, a pilgrimage that commemorates the hours Jesus spent in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The evening begins at each church with 7 p.m. Mass on March 29. Each of the churches will then remain open for the pilgrimage. The Blessed Sacrament will be processed to a special place of reposition in preparation for Good Friday services.
“It is a tradition that helps put faith into the concrete – we take the time to decorate to honor the presence of Christ and join him in the ‘garden’ of Gethsemane,” said Father Norman Carroll, pastor of St. Elizabeth Church in Wilmington.
Bishop Malooly will preside at Mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter, which, along with St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception and St. Patrick will remain open until 9 p.m. St. Joseph Church on French Street also remains open until 9.
St. Thomas the Apostle and St. Hedwig are open until 10 p.m. St. Hedwig will have Tenebrae at 10. St. Thomas will host a Tenebrae service on March 28 at 7 p.m.
The following churches are open until 11 p.m.: St. Ann, St. Elizabeth and St. Paul. The pilgrimage at St. Paul will take place in the lower chapel.
Father Carroll, who remembers the tradition from his childhood, said the tradition offers other benefits. For one, it gives people an opportunity to visit a church they might not otherwise have a reason to see. And visitors “might be inspired by one another’s devotion,” he said.
Holy Thursday signals the end of Lent and the beginning of the Holy Triduum, which ends on Easter Sunday. Visiting seven churches is a tradition that grew from the time of prayer and adoration after the Holy Thursday Mass. The practice may have originated in Rome, where pilgrims would visit the seven major basilicas.