At 6:34 on Easter morning, sunlight first peered through a low, gray layer of stratus clouds, although the solar orb could not be seen. The tide was high, and it was cold. Temperatures were in the 30s, and were made piercing by a light breeze. A crowd of perhaps as many as 2,000 had gathered for Easter worship on Castle Island, on the northeast rampart of Fort Independence facing the Donald McKay obelisk.
At the moment of sunrise, Fr. Robert Casey, the pastor of South Boston’s St. Brigid Parish, began the 2016 Sunrise Easter Mass with an opening hymn, “Morning Has Broken.” Sunrise Mass on Castle Island has been a tradition here for many decades; it is always well attended by the faithful. Needless to say, they have learned to dress warmly.
The crowd was graced by the presence of South Boston’s State Rep. Nick Collins and his fiancée, Olivia J. Liff from Jamaica Plain. (South Boston Community Health Center lists her as a member of its family medicine staff.) They are planning an August date for their wedding.
The complete Easter Gospel readings tell a fascinating story. It begins with the Vigil Gospel of Luke, which narrates the morning visit to the tomb of Jesus by the holy women, where they see two angels. The excitement from their heightened awareness of the Resurrection is contrasted with other episodes later that day, such as the disciples hiding behind locked doors and the calm, quiet meeting where Christ breaking bread with His two disciples in Emmaus.
John’s Gospel was read at the sunrise Mass this year. This Gospel also tells of the morning visit to the tomb by Mary Magdalene, who runs back to tell Peter that Christ’s body is gone. She then runs back with Pater and John, “the other Disciple whom Jesus loved.” The details are charming, including that Peter, the older one of the pair, ran out of breath and had to slow down – the other one waited for him. The homily dwelt on the importance of this event by using running as a theme – by emphasizing that the Easter morning events all took place at a full-speed, flat-out run.
The ever-obliging volunteers from the Castle Island Association then provided a welcome collation of coffee and doughnuts inside Fort Independence after the Sunrise Service. Happy Easter!