San Antonio, Texas, Jan 5, 2013 / 13:08 pm
For the 11th year, Catholics and Jews gathered together for a special joint Hanukkah celebration that has become a unique San Antonio tradition.
On Dec. 13, about 500 members of both faiths filled the tables at San Fernando Cathedral's AT&T Community Centre, welcomed by San Fernando's rector, Father Tony Vilano, to "this Hanukkah celebration that has been going strong every year," with Alice Viroslav, president of the Jewish Federation of San Antonio, extending a "happy Hanukkah to our Jewish friends and Merry Christmas to our Christian friends."
A choral presentation of Hanukkah songs by the Providence High School Choir, led by Elaine Bir, was followed by Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller's opening prayer asking God that "the flame of these candles always shine brightly so that we may see a glimpse of your glory in each other." Father Vilano noted that honorary chairpersons for the event were Msgr. Lawrence Stuebben, Sister Charlene Wedelich, CDP, Charles Martin "Marty" Wender and Robert Aguirre.
Msgr. Stuebben, in introducing guest speaker Wender, related that when he and Sister Charlene were asked to serve as coordinators for the San Antonio visit of Pope John Paul II 26 years ago, no one - themselves included - had any idea how to go about such an unprecedented undertaking here. They learned the visit was to include an outdoor Mass and San Antonio's largest facility at the time was Alamo Stadium, which could only hold 25,000 people. A crowd of 500,000 was expected.