I enjoy visiting different Anchorage churches during Advent to experience individually different flavors of Advent Celebration. I chose Our Lady of Guadalupe for my visit last Sunday to experience their celebration at the 5:30 Mass. Sunday is a busy day with Masses at 9, 11:30, and 5:30. The church is large and the 5:30 mass attendees almost filled the church.
The service lasted about an hour and was a beautiful mix of music, liturgy, and Mass celebration. Fr. Vince Blanco is the parish priest. Surprisingly he lit the first candle in the Advent wreath almost immediately as the service started. Many churches do this differently at various times of the service. I almost missed it as it came so quickly. The first candle is symbolic of Hope.
There was beautiful music by their choir and instrumentalists. Fr. Vince's sermon was well-delivered with him standing down in front of the congregation. It was as if he was having a conversation with his family. His sermon was an excellent reflection on Advent and the importance of observing it. He closed his sermon an admonition, "May God be a priority in your life."
Before the Mass was celebrated a beautiful version of The Lord's Prayer was sung by the congregation, instead of being recited. Many congregants held hands during this singing, families, et al.
As I left, I noticed many boxes of donations in the narthex that were designated for Philippine relief.
I enjoyed this Advent service very much, even though I'm not of the Catholic persuasion. It was a warm and friendly service.