OLD TOWN — “Given the difficulties, sadness, and isolation that so many are experiencing this year, we need tangible signs of cheer and goodwill, not to mention faith, hope and love.”
It is hard to argue with the words of Fr. Kyle Doustou, pastor of the Parish of the Resurrection of the Lord in Old Town. The COVID-19 pandemic has put a temporary halt to many of our annual holiday gatherings and traditions, leaving a void usually filled by encountering friends and loved ones this time of year.
The parish believes that a simple act will not only help remind community members that we are all in this together, but also help bring smiles and a measure of joy to many friends and neighbors in need of them.
“Our parish’s Worship and Spirituality Commission has proposed a wonderful idea for the nearly 800 parish families,” said Fr. Doustou. “We are inviting everyone to construct a star that can be displayed outside of their homes as a sign of peace, hope, and solidarity.”
The stars can be as simple as construction paper or a Popsicle stick star hung in a window and as elaborate as a large star on the front door or a bigger display on the front lawn.
“We’re encouraging everyone to be as creative as possible and to invite their family, friends, and neighbors to join in,” said Fr. Doustou. “Our goal is really very simple: to let the people in our communities know that they’re not alone and that the words of John’s Gospel can be a source of comfort and joy for all of us. ‘The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’ (Jn 1:5).”
The Knights of Columbus are already busy constructing four seven-foot tall Stars of Bethlehem to put on display in front of each of the parish churches (Holy Family Church, Old Town; Our Lady of Wisdom Church, Orono; St. Ann Church, Bradley; St. Ann Church, Indian Island).
The star will be put into place at Holy Family Church, located on 429 Main Street in Old Town, on Saturday, Nov. 28, during a special ceremony at 10 a.m., the day before the First Sunday of Advent.
It’s an unofficial opening as many stars are already popping up at houses. The cheer and goodwill is spreading not only through the parish, but to other denominations.
“We invited other non-Catholic churches in the area to join us and the response has been great so far,” said Fr. Doustou. “The Baptists, the Episcopalians, the Methodists and the Congregationalists have all reached out to their people and invited them to be part of it.”
A small idea for an act of warmth and kindness is growing into a community-wide display of togetherness at a time when it is needed most.
“I think we’re going to get to the point where we’ll be able to drive down any number of streets from in the greater Old Town/Orono area and see all these different stars on many different kinds of homes,” said Fr. Doustou. “Just a concrete sign of hope.”
For more information about the initiative, contact Dave Guthro, communications director at the Diocese of Portland, at email@example.com.