Holy Week is the Catholic Church’s most sacred time of the year. It is the remembrance of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.
The celebration at San Quentin’s Catholic Chapel, which was open to all, started with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, April 18, and ended with Vespers on Easter Sunday.
“This is the high point of the Christian year, and it goes back to the earliest celebration of the Church,” said SQ Catholic Chaplain Father George Williams.
Thursday night’s mass began with the Last Supper celebration. “It continues with the washing of the feet, communion, and the solemn procession of the Eucharist to the altar of repose where the faithful spend time in adoration and prayer,” according to the Inland Catholic Byte.
On Friday there was a noon service for the Stations of the Cross, which commemorates Jesus’ ordeal on the road to Calvary. Later in the day there was also the Good Friday evening service in remembrance of Christ being crucified and buried.
“On Holy Saturday night, in silence and in darkness, we enter into the Easter Vigil… Thanks be to God!” said the Inland Catholic Byte.
The main celebration took place Saturday night—Easter Vigil Mass and the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. It included Baptism, Confirmation and Oblate Vows.
Everyone received their own candle upon entering the Catholic Chapel. Before the service began, SQ’s Deacon Matt went around getting all the candles lit.
The lights went out, and candlelight filled the chapel. “The candle is a sign of the light of Christ,” said Deacon Matt.
More than 70 inmates and 20 visitors from the outside had a candle in hand.
“It was a glorious vigil. There had to have been more than 20 visitors from outside of San Quentin,” said inmate Greg Jordan.
Ken Miller, a visitor from San Francisco, said, “I’m a converted Catholic myself, went through confirmation in the 90’s. It’s always a neat experience. I attend the vigil every year. This is my first vigil at San Quentin.”
Later, in the service inmate Eric Rives was baptized, fully submerged under water by Deacon Matt.
Rives said, “I feel the love of Christ.” In explain- ing why he became Catholic and decided to get baptized, said Rives by saying “Simply love, love of God, love of Christ, love of the Holy Spirit, love of the church. I feel loved; deep tender, compassionate love. This love impels me to love others with the depth of God’s love and Christ’s love; to walk in service of others just as Jesus did. I am free.”