Washing of the feet at Portland’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

Posted March 28, 2013, at 5:16 p.m.
Rev. Michael Seavey washes feet at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Thursday. The service aimed to raise awareness of suffering in the community.
Rev. Michael Seavey washes feet at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Thursday. The service aimed to raise awareness of suffering in the community. Buy Photo
Rev. Michael Seavey calls prays with those in attendance at a ritual foot washing at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Thursday. The Holy Week observance aimed to raise awareness of those struggling with poverty and injustice in the community.
Rev. Michael Seavey calls prays with those in attendance at a ritual foot washing at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Thursday. The Holy Week observance aimed to raise awareness of those struggling with poverty and injustice in the community. Buy Photo
Priets Rev. wash the feet of community members at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland Thursday. The ceremony mimics how Jesus humbly washed his disciples' feet before the Last Supper. The service aimed to raise awareness of suffering in the community.
Priets Rev. wash the feet of community members at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland Thursday. The ceremony mimics how Jesus humbly washed his disciples' feet before the Last Supper. The service aimed to raise awareness of suffering in the community. Buy Photo
Rev. Louis Phillips washes feet at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Thursday. The service aimed to raise awareness of suffering in the community.
Rev. Louis Phillips washes feet at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Thursday. The service aimed to raise awareness of suffering in the community. Buy Photo
Rev. Louis Phillips washes feet at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Thursday. The ceremony mimics how Jesus humbly washed his disciples' feet before the Last Supper. The service aimed to raise awareness of suffering in the community.
Rev. Louis Phillips washes feet at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Thursday. The ceremony mimics how Jesus humbly washed his disciples' feet before the Last Supper. The service aimed to raise awareness of suffering in the community. Buy Photo
Rev. Frank Murray washes feet at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Thursday. The service aimed to raise awareness of suffering in the community.
Rev. Frank Murray washes feet at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Thursday. The service aimed to raise awareness of suffering in the community. Buy Photo
Catholic Priests (from left) Louis Phillips, Michael Seavey and Frank Murray listen to the personal story of someone struggling with poverty or injustice at a ritual foot washing at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Thursday. The Holy Week observance echoed Jesus washing his disciples' feet before the Last Supper.
Catholic Priests (from left) Louis Phillips, Michael Seavey and Frank Murray listen to the personal story of someone struggling with poverty or injustice at a ritual foot washing at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Thursday. The Holy Week observance echoed Jesus washing his disciples' feet before the Last Supper. Buy Photo
Claudia Velasquez reads the personal story of a community member struggling with poverty or injustice during a Holy Week ritual foot washing at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Thursday.
Claudia Velasquez reads the personal story of a community member struggling with poverty or injustice during a Holy Week ritual foot washing at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Thursday. Buy Photo
A jug, basin and towel sit at the front of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Thursday during a Holy Week observance of ritual foot washing.
A jug, basin and towel sit at the front of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Thursday during a Holy Week observance of ritual foot washing. Buy Photo
Rev. Louis Phillips smiles while washing feet at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Thursday. The ceremomy mimics how Jesus humbly washed his disciples' feet before the Last Supper. The service aimed to raise awareness of suffering in the community.
Rev. Louis Phillips smiles while washing feet at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Thursday. The ceremomy mimics how Jesus humbly washed his disciples' feet before the Last Supper. The service aimed to raise awareness of suffering in the community. Buy Photo
A man, a boy and a woman wait to have their feet washed by priests at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Thursday during a Holy Week observance.
A man, a boy and a woman wait to have their feet washed by priests at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Thursday during a Holy Week observance. Buy Photo
Rev. Frank Murray kisses a community member's foot after washing it at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland Thursday. The ceremony mimics how Jesus humbly washed his disciples' feet before the Last Supper. The service aimed to raise awareness of suffering in the community.
Rev. Frank Murray kisses a community member's foot after washing it at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland Thursday. The ceremony mimics how Jesus humbly washed his disciples' feet before the Last Supper. The service aimed to raise awareness of suffering in the community. Buy Photo

PORTLAND, Maine — Priests, parishioners and community members gathered at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at noon Thursday for a ritual washing of feet as part of Holy Week observances. The ceremony echoed Jesus humbly washing his disciples’ feet before the Last Supper.

The service aimed to raise awareness about community members’ struggles with poverty, homelessness and injustice. Personal stories of unemployment, lack of health care insurance as well as tales of immigrants escaping violence in their home nations were read aloud while the foot washing took place at the front of the church.

The text from five of those stories, provided by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, follows.

• One Sudanese family escaped the killings occurring in their country and fled to the Ethiopian border. With few provisions, they traveled on foot. Along the way, a group attacked the family and two of the children were taken, never to be seen again. The remaining members of the family now live in the Portland area.

• A local single woman was a full-time student before recently becoming pregnant. Rhe young woman decided to keep the child and left school but now does not have a job to support herself. She is trying to find a way to meet the child’s basic needs.

• The Sudanese government gathered all professionals and intellectuals in one area. They were placed on a boat, tied and bound. They were pushed overboard into a river to drown. One man was thrown overboard into a more shallow area of the river and remained under water until the boat was out of sight. He remained in the river for almost two days before being rescued by a fisherman. He now lives in the Portland area.

• A husband, wife and their grandson suffered a fire at their new home in the area but did not have insurance as the house was not yet completed. They are left to rebuild with two Social Security Disability checks totaling $1,200 per month. The husband was burned in the fire and the wife has cancer. The community is trying to help with food, clothes and a temporary place to stay. They are now trying to find more permanent housing.

• A husband left his wife and two small children and took the only vehicle. The single mother now walks three to four miles per day to get to appointments and to the local grocery store. Her old stroller has broken because of the weight of groceries and she needs a new stroller.

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