Fall and rise
Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church
Reno, NV 89511
opened its doors to the public in 1996 and was the first new Catholic church built in the Reno diocese in 32 years. The church is part of the private parochial school Bishop Manogue and can be found on the street of the same name, which is hidden in the southern part of town off South Virginia Street.
The church’s architecture is impressive, framed with high arches and heavy wooden doors leading into a large narthex, or entryway, which in turn leads into the enormous nave. Vaulted ceilings tower over a partial ring of pews surrounding the chancel and altar while all are overshadowed by a large crucifix suspended from the ceiling. A stained glass window is set at least 30 feet high in the far wall, depicting a mountain range and lone river.
This year, Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Last Supper, fell on March 20, the first day of spring. A healthy congregation of more than 100 people arrive for the 7 p.m. service. The scent of incense wafting through the air as the priest and small procession walk toward the altar stirs the imagination toward the mysteries of the unknown.
Father Larry Morrison begins the service with English translations before Latin chants begin reverberating around the room. All in attendance rise, kneel or sing in unison, with the exception of the unruly children who chirp away happily during the long silence of prayer. Different passages of the Bible are read with regard to the holy day, each telling different aspects of a story that takes place over centuries.
The focus of this mass is the beginning of the Eucharist, which is when Jesus broke bread and poured wine stating that they were his body and blood and that only through him can people find forgiveness. Morrison reiterates that only through a priest could a person gain salvation, and people should strive to be their best selves while being awake and attentive to God.
The service continues with the washing of the feet of the 12 disciples in what is called “in persona Christi,” a Latin term meaning “in the person of Christ,” and the four priests present wash each other’s feet to mirror the act performed by Jesus at the Last Supper. This is a renewal for the vows of the priests as they pledge to sacrifice their own pleasure to be like Christ. Afterward, Morrison reads a short poem that speaks of being “embarrassed” from a lack of faith and a desire to be washed, mended, liberated and comforted by God.
This mass is the first of the three that represent the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. The Passion is the burdened walk and crucifixion of Jesus; this is marked by the Stations of the Cross, which are remembered the following day, and the resurrection is the Easter Sunday mass. Holy Thursday marks the end of Lent and the beginning of the sacred Triduum (three days) of Holy Week.
The service concludes with Morrison using incense to sanctify bread and wine for the Eucharist, and the entire congregation participates. A final song is sung, and the priest is covered in two gowns before leading the congregation out of the church.