By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Area Catholics gathered for the traditional Saturday evening Easter vigil service.
With incense burning, dimmed lights, and all holy water drained from reciprocals, the faithful in South Philadelphia lit their candles one-by-one from a central fire, signifying the light of the Christian savior Jesus Christ.
“This is the night when we traditionally recognize the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” Father Joe Genito said. He is Pastor of the National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia at Broad and Ellsworth Streets. “The ritual is all about baptism and rising to new life. We have the blessing of the fire in the beginning and then the pascal candle is lit. And the we have the blessing of the water and baptism in the middle of the ritual.”
The ceremony lasts about two hours and with a new pope, Father Genito says there is a new focus this Easter:
“He reminded all of us that our first priority should be service to the people of God.”
Father Genito says Pope Francis has directed all people to go back to the basics of Christianity.