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Paschal candles made by hand in Diocese of Wilmington provide fun and efficiency in pair of parishes: Photo gallery

Albert Rhein, (right), Fritz Rhein, Victor Rhein, Father Joseph McQuaide, Karl Rhein watch Paul Rhein poor wax into a mold during a Paschal Candle-making project with the Rhein family at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Sunday, March 21, 2021. Photo/Don Blake

The paschal candle is a prominent part of the Easter Vigil, representing Christ, and this year at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Wilmington, it will have even more significance for one local family.

Marilu Rhein will be baptized at the vigil. The paschal candle that will provide light during the procession that Saturday evening was made by the infant’s parents, Paul and Lindsay, and her five brothers and one sister. The idea of making a paschal candle instead of purchasing one was proposed by the rector of the cathedral, Father Joseph W. McQuaide IV, who is also pastor of the Rheins’ parish, nearby St. Patrick’s.

Father McQuaide said a seminary friend who is now a priest in the Diocese of Mobile, Ala., had done this at his parish, and Father John Solomon, pastor of St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish in Ocean City, Md., did the same last year.

“Now that I have a parish of my own, I thought it would be something nice to do since their daughter was going to be baptized at the Easter Vigil,” Father McQuaide said.

The process involved melting down all the old candle stubs, then pouring the wax into a PVC pipe. A wick was braided and set into the wax, which was given a day to cool and set. A day later, Father McQuaide and the Rhein family returned to St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church in Wilmington, where the activity took place, and decorated the candle with wax dyes, a cross, the Greek letters alpha and omega, and the year.

Father Solomon said he saw the project at his friend’s parish on Facebook, so he did some homework before bringing the project to his parish last year.

“It takes a little bit of time, but it wasn’t that hard,” he said.

Members of youth ministry at St. Mary Star of the Sea take the lead in the project, he continued. They submit designs for the candle, and Father Solomon picks two of them. An artist in the parish helps with the final product, and the director of religious education is involved as well. The youngsters have embraced the project.

“They’ve always got good ideas, and there’s good excitement about it,” he said.
Lindsay Rhein said the family has been involved at St. Patrick’s for a long time. Her husband has done woodworking there, and she and another woman made veils for the church’s statues. She believes that and the fact that their daughter is the only baptism at the vigil this year led Father McQuaide to ask them if they’d like to take on the paschal candle.

“I think he knew we’d be excited about it,” she said.

Besides Marilu, her children range in age from 4-16, and that first day at St. Mary’s was longer than anticipated.

“The older ones were pretty much busy the whole time,” she said.

St. Mary Star of the Sea will be making its second paschal candle this year, and Father McQuaide said he expects his Wilmington parishes to do the same in 2022.

“We’re already making plans for next year. They appreciated making the paschal candle from liturgical candles,” he said.

Rhein was happy to hear that her parish will be doing that.

“When you put that much work into it, and you get the supplies and everything, you should try at least one more time. And it was fun,” she said. It is also a good way to recycle instead of having to purchase new materials, she added.

The Rhein family is looking forward to seeing their handiwork when they get to St. Peter’s on April 3, particularly Lindsay, who converted to Catholicism and entered the church at an Easter Vigil.

“I think everyone’s going to be excited. It’s an exciting day anyway.”