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A springtime to remember: Faith leaders recall holidays

Father Charles McCarron, pastor, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church

It was Easter Sunday in the Bronx, a day etched vividly in my memory from when I was five years old. Mr. Tarrant, the kind gentleman from the 6th floor, made it unforgettable for me that year with a gift.

As the sun began to rise, I found myself greeted by a delightful surprise — a toy wheelbarrow accompanied by a massive chocolate egg. The sheer size of it seemed to dwarf me, but my excitement knew no bounds. Grinning from ear to ear, I wheeled my new treasure around the apartment, showing it off to anyone who would spare a moment to admire. The chocolate egg, wrapped in shiny foil, seemed like a treasure chest waiting to be opened. I could hardly contain my anticipation until it was finally time to indulge in its sweetness.

Before church, adorned in my new Easter clothes, I ventured out to the playground, eager to enjoy the beautiful spring weather of that day. The swing set beckoned to me, its rhythmic creaking promising hours of joyous play. With each push, I soared higher and higher, feeling as though I could touch the sky.

But then, in a moment of misjudgment, I leaned too far back, and with a sudden jolt, I found myself tumbling off the swing and into a nearby puddle of mud. The shock of the fall was quickly replaced by the squelching sensation of mud seeping through my clothes.

As I sat there, stunned and covered in mud, I heard the sound of a gasp behind me. Turning around, I saw my mother standing there, her eyes wide with shock and concern, coming to get me to go to church. And then, to my surprise, tears began to well up in her eyes, streaming down her cheeks. In that moment, amidst the mud and the tears, I felt a rush of emotions — embarrassment, disappointment, and confusion.

But as my mother rushed to my side, enveloping me in a comforting embrace, I realized that even in the midst of mishaps, Easter was about more than just chocolate eggs and fancy clothes. It was about love, family, and the bonds that held us together, even when things didn’t go according to plan.

And though that Easter may have been marked by a fall into a puddle of mud, it remains a cherished memory — a reminder of the enduring warmth and tenderness of that day spent in the Bronx.

Father Peter DeSanctis, pastor, Our Lady of the Isle

It was the first Easter after my father died, in 2005, and I went at dawn to Our Lady of the Isle Cemetery to visit his grave. I went so early because of the two Easter masses later that day. The cemetery was empty, of course. It was a dark, overcast, chilly morning, and I arrived just as it began to get light.

I’ve often thought that the first Easter must have been the same kind of weather, when the tomb was discovered, empty, and the light came later when Our Lord revealed himself, resurrected.

That Easter morning in 2005, I received a great gift. It was the first time I had a genuine conviction and an assurance of the meaning of Easter. It was really a first for me. I had always had an intellectual and moral belief in Easter, but this was the first time I had the conviction. Easter became true. As the old saying goes, “The fact became true.” It was an Easter gift — I’ve never forgotten the experience.

Rabbi Berel Lerman, Center For Jewish Life–Chabad in Sag Harbor

Passover, beyond being a commemoration of liberation from slavery, highlights the importance of conveying our heritage to the next generation. At the heart of this celebration lies the pivotal role of children, echoing the timeless tradition of passing down stories and values from one generation to the next.

My memories of the Passover Seder as a child are filled with warmth and significance. The emphasis placed on us kids was palpable. We all had a chance to ask the Four Questions, a moment that was eagerly anticipated by each of us. As we celebrated Passover with our cousins and extended family, it took quite some time for each child to have a turn and ask the four questions. Yet, this was more than a mere formality; it underscored the importance of engaging the youth and giving them a bedrock of tradition, spirituality, and Jewish culture.

Reflecting on those moments, I realize the profound impact they had on me. Beyond the retelling of the Exodus story, these experiences instilled in me a deep appreciation for our traditions, a sense of belonging and purpose.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to recognize the broader implications of engaging youth in religious and spiritual practices. It lays the foundation for them to grow into productive and healthy adults who see themselves not only as productive members of society, but as individuals inspired to lead lives of purpose, contributing to making this world a better place.

With this in mind, I extend an invitation to join the community Passover Seder at our center in Sag Harbor on April 22 and 23. In the spirit of inclusivity, let us gather, young and old alike, to commemorate our shared history and reaffirm our commitment to a future filled with hope and positivity. For more information, visit CFJewishLife.com.

Reverend Stephen Adkison, pastor, Shelter Island Presbyterian Church

There is one bittersweet Easter memory I hold dear. It was in the mid-70s, and I was either 6 or 7 years old, and my mother took me and my younger brothers to a local church on Easter Sunday on a bright, sunny, cool day out in the countryside of Arkansas.

My younger brothers and I were all dressed in our Sunday best, which consisted of matching dark polyester slacks, short-sleeve white shirts with collars, and what we thought were really cool clip-on ties. Each of us had our own Easter basket lined with neon green grass that we hoped would soon be filled with colorful eggs containing candy. The Easter Egg Hunt launched soon after church.

I don’t remember anything from Sunday School and Worship Service that day, only being around a lot of other children and adults after the service, waiting to be set loose to hunt and find those coveted eggs. Finally, the whistle was blown and dozens of kids launched into different directions. Before long, every basket was full. That was the sweet part of the memory — now for the bitter part.

After the hunt, I was approached by some of the older church kids, probably in their early teens. One asked if I’d like to have a “magic egg.” It wasn’t a plastic egg, but a real egg that had “candy” inside. I thought: How could a real egg have candy inside? Can I trust them? They seemed so sincere. All I had to do was break it open, and I’d find it, they said. They asked that I crack open the egg in front of them.

So, I did, I cracked the egg open with help from the side of my Easter Basket, and lo and behold, there was no candy inside, but a real yolk. It got all over the eggs in my basket and my hands and even on my clip-on tie. The moment I broke the egg open, I was in shock. My early teen tormentors began to laugh out loud and then quickly ran away.

The big church kids had lied to me. Not only did I have egg in my Easter basket, but now, I had egg on my face, as well. I had been pranked. On Easter. At church. By church kids.

My memory from that point forward is hazy, but it’s been nearly 50 years since this occurred. Of course, as a pastor and a Christ-follower, I’ve long since forgiven them, although it did teach me a valuable lesson about trust.

And while it was not funny at the time, not a single Easter Sunday or Easter Egg Hunt can go by that I don’t think about that day — and smile!