Dominicans in D.C. Aim to Keep Saints in Halloween

Vigil to Be Observed at House of Studies

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WASHINGTON, D.C., OCT. 29, 2003 ( The Dominican House of Studies has been making a special effort for five years to make All Hallow’s Eve, well, more hallowed.

Instead of trick-or-treating (or worse, bar-hopping) on Halloween, hundreds of the faithful gather with the Dominican religious for the Vigil of the Saints — celebrated on the eve of All Saints’ Day.

The vigil centers on readings from the writings and lives of the saints in a darkened chapel, followed by Gregorian and Russian chant by the Dominican Schola Cantorum. There is also a brief homily on the saints and the universal call to holiness, night prayer, and a candlelight procession to the cloister’s reliquary while chanting the Litany of the Saints.

Afterward, the 60-some Dominican priests and brothers host a party for their guests.

«I particularly love the idea of giving saints a public ‘voice’ to speak to us today — and it’s clearly meeting a need,» Dominican Brother Nicholas Lombardo said of the event. «People of all ages, but a lot of young adults particularly, have been drawn to it in a way that has surprised even us.»

This year’s event is expected to draw close to 300 faithful, he said.

«For this vigil, we’ve had the most people in our house chapel that have been there for anything that anybody can remember, with people crammed in ad hoc seating,» Brother Lombardo said.

The concept came from the Dominican Priory of St. Albert in Oakland, California, which started holding a similar event in 1998. This year a similar liturgical service for the All Saints vigil will begin at Providence College in Rhode Island.

Dominican Brother Dominic Langevin, one of the head coordinators of this year’s vigil in Washington, has seen the positive effect of the celebration.

«The vigil is a wonderful opportunity for Catholic fellowship among a wide spectrum of the faithful — priests, seminarians, male and female religious, and lay people,» he said. «Whereas most of our attendees are college students or young adults from the Washington, D.C., area, there is a great excitement for them in being able to experience something fervently and counterculturally Catholic.»

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