Saint Therese Church of Little Flower
Saint Therese Church of the Little Flower875 E. Plumb Ln.
Reno, NV 89502
Early on an unseasonably hot May morning, the streets nearly empty of people, and the sun still partially hidden behind the horizon, a dedicated group of church-goers arrive for the 7 a.m. communion at Little Flower Church. There are neither children in tow nor any complete family. In fact, every person who arrives, arrives alone. Daily Mass on this particular morning is a private dedication.
The sound of water from a fountain greets the ears upon entering the otherwise empty foyer. A large stained-glass window stretches across a wall filling the entrance with shards of colored light. People pass briskly through the narthex and walk through the entrance of the church, down the nave and into one of the many pews.
Before the start of service, the lights remain off, and those in attendance pray silently under the semi-dome-like steeple, which is lined with dark wooden beams that match the paneling that lines the church and adds to the darkness. An altar to the Virgin Mary stands alone along the back wall, surrounded in candles and flickering majestically in the dim light of dawn. The acoustics are astounding in this church, and every person who enters is careful not to scrape their keys on the wooden seats. There isn’t a complete echo, but every sound fills the entire room. It is an impressive room for a choir, though unfortunately, there is no singing during the morning communion. Dozens of pews slope down toward the chancel (altar and choir), behind which stands an enormous statue of Christ with outstretched arms.
The lights come on inside the church and the small congregation of fewer than 20 people rises to their feet as Julian Carmona enters. Carmona is an active parishioner and has served as a lector for eight years at Little Flower. He was asked by Father Agustin, the usual pastor, to help with the morning communion since the priest would be gone on retreat for the week. Carmona’s sermon is brief, consisting mostly of prayer. There are prayers for the Pope, the nation, the helpless, and the leaders of the church. He selects a brief portion of the Bible to read regarding faith, from the letter of St. James, speaking of the humility that comes through wisdom, urging the congregation to avoid jealousy, and requesting that they be gentle and compliant.
“Come out demon,” Carmona quotes from a passage in which Jesus exercised a demon from a young man. “Everything is possible to one who has faith,” he concludes, emphasizing the necessity of prayer. “The word of the Lord,” he says. “Thanks be to God,” replies the congregation. The morning communion is given after this brief speech and consists of receiving a paper-thin wafer representing the body of Christ. The wafer is placed in two hands or directly in the mouth by the priest, or in this case, Carmona. After communion is taken, the congregation members bow their heads silently until Carmona retakes the pulpit. He then leads the church in the Lord’s Prayer.
Before the conclusion of the service, Carmona requests that the congregation greet one another. People reach across pews or the aisles to shake hands with the others present to say, “Peace be with you,” to which the proper reply is “and also with you,” though in some cases, only a wave can be offered to those outside of arm’s reach. All told, the communion lasts less than 20 minutes, and after the service is concluded the congregation walks out into the light of a new day.