PORTLAND—A ritual Washing of the Feet is scheduled for Monument Square in Portland on Holy Thursday, April 17, at noon.
This event is co-sponsored by severalchurch congregations including the Catholic Parishes of the Portland Peninsula and Peaks Island; St. Ansgar Lutheran Church; the Episcopal Church of Maine; Woodfords Congregational Church, UCC; and Williston-Immanuel United Church.
The event aims to raise awareness about the many sufferings people in our communities carry. Many are homeless or vulnerable to homelessness due to unemployment or lack of health care insurance. Others are immigrants or refugees from many nations. Often escaping horrible violence in their home nations, they found refuge in the communities of Greater Portland.
“Anyone in need is welcomed to come and have their feet washed,” said Father Michael Seavey, Parochial Vicar of the Portland Peninsula and Island Parishes, in a diocese press release. “Many groups are inviting participants to attend, including Interfaith Worker Justice Southern Maine, Preble Street and the Southern Maine Workers Center.”
Washing of feet consists of pouring water over the feet of those present with stories to tell, as well as others in need, and then drying them. Personal stories of some of the participants will be read aloud during the service which will feature several languages including Spanish, French and Arabic. Accentuating the washing of the feet are the elements of humble service and Christian charity, of which the Holy Thursday feet washing is an eminent sign.
The Lord Jesus washed the feet of His disciples at the Last Supper as a sign of the new commandment that Christians should love one another: “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (John 13:34). In 1955, Pope Pius XII restored the practice as a part of a general reform of Holy Week, in part to show the Lord’s commandment about Christian service and to instruct the faithful to “abound in works of Christian charity.”
Media members are encouraged to spread the word about this special service and to attend the Washing of the Feet on April 17. In the case of inclement weather, the service will be moved to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on 307 Congress Street.