The Litany of the Saints
Michael Oliveri, long-time resident of 1515 Fairmount Avenue, is not shy to talk about the importance of faith in his life. Nor is he shy to talk about another passion of his life: music.
On Saturday, March 26, Michael was able to experience both of his passions when he attended the Easter vigil at St. John the Evangelist Church in Center City. The Easter vigil is a powerful tradition in the Catholic church: It begins with a large bonfire outside the church, then participants reverently process inward, to a dark church, where they will hear stories of Scripture, leading up to the account of Jesus rising from the dead.
Michael was particularly moved by one moment in the liturgy. The church choir did a powerful performance of “The Litany of the Saints” by John Becker. As the beautiful anthem filled the sanctuary, three of the Capuchin priests lay prostrate at the altar. “It was so beautiful,” Michael says, “I had to turn my head so people couldn’t see my crying!”
Following the service, and filled with a deep sense of beauty and reverence, Michael headed home. He was barely a block away, at Market Street, where a man who was homeless asked him for some money. Michael told him that he couldn’t give him money, but offered to help him by calling the Homeless Outreach Hotline (215-232-1984). The man agreed, and soon the outreach team was there. They took him to a shelter for the night.
Michael was gratified to hear, on Monday, that the man had stayed in the shelter, apparently deciding to take steps to get off the streets. Michael was grateful that he was able to intervene in a positive way, especially since he understood what it meant to be homeless. “It was definitely God at work!” he said.
And maybe, inspired by the litany of the saints, it was a kind of Easter story.
You can use the Homeless Outreach Hotline (215-232-1984) if you see a person who is in need of help.