Acolytes from the Cathedral Church of St. Luke, St. John the Baptist and Holy Cross, Sanford recently attended the 32nd National Acolyte Festival at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
“The grand procession was grand and glorious,” said Richard Clark, Cathedral Acolyte Warden. “This is something one must see in person because words cannot describe the beauty.” There were acolytes from all over the United States, with processional crosses, thuribles, Holy Spirit kites, colorful streamers, windsocks, banners, verges and flags.”
The Right Rev. James “Jay” Beattie Magness, The Episcopal Church's bishop suffragan for Federal Ministries, was the celebrant and homilist.
While in Washington, the group visited Arlington National Cemetery and saw the changing of the guard, as well as the laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They also visited the Hlocaust Memorial and the Smithsonian art and history museums.
More diocesan churches should send acolytes on the 2013 Washington trip, Clark said.
He has been on about a dozen such trips. “I love to take people to the Acolyte Festival,” Richard said in the Cathedral newsletter. “It gives them something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.”
Love of liturgy has fueled Richard’s spiritual life since he was in the ninth grade and served as an acolyte at Grace Chapel Parish (now San José Episcopal Church)in Jacksonville, said the newsletter article, written by the Rev. Christine Maddux.
Every Saturday morning he learned about liturgy from Fr. William Eckman, Chaplain of Acolytes, whose sense of proper liturgy was honed in the high church services at St. Mary the Virgin Church in New York City.
“Father Eckman was a real teaching priest,” Richard said. “He taught us the reasons behind the rubrics, and the real meaning of Easter.” From that time on, Richard cultivated his love of liturgy. “I have a great passion for liturgy to be done right. I’ve always been kind of a fussbucket about that. That’s because good liturgy should be a gift to God from us.
“It should be solemn and joyful at the same time, and it should be stately,” he went on. “It should be a real foretaste of the Kingdom of Heaven!” This is the attitude of Richard’s that imbues his ministry as Acolyte Warden, a position he accepted in1999.