There is always a reason to celebrate at Saint-Esprit!
In every season, Saint Esprit holds special services which express the diversity and enthusiasm of our members. We are Huguenots and Episcopalians, Africans, Asians and Europeans, from many faith backgrounds. These unique celebrations are usually held after a special Sunday in the liturgical calendar. Parishioners are invited to bring a pot-luck dish and we share good food, good cheer and multilingual conversation.
Epiphany Sunday - L'Épiphanie
This service, held on the Sunday closest to January 6, marks the close of the Christmas season and commemorates the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus in a stable. It is followed by a reception with the traditional French cake, the Gallette des Rois. If you are lucky, you will find a bean in your slice, which by the French tradition will make you Queen or King for the year!
Candlemas - La chandeleur
Candlemas, also known as the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Feast of the Presentation of our Lord Jesus, is a Christian holiday commemorating the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. It falls on or near February 2, which is traditionally the 40th day of the Christmas-Epiphany season. Non-Christians might celebrate the Lupercalia in mid-February, in honor of Lupercus, the god of fertility and shepherds. The celebration of Feralia occurred at the same time. It is a perfect time to eat pancakes (crepes) as we look forward to the end of winter!
Easter Sunday - Pâques
Holy Week commemorates the events around the death and resurrection of Jesus. At Saint Esprit, this includes an evening service for Maundy Thursday, which reenacts the events at the Last Supper, when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and was arrested. On Good Friday evening, the altar is stripped and remains bare through the weekend. On Easter Sunday, we welcome Christ's resurrection, with a celebration of light as the new Paschal candle which will burn throughout the next liturgical year is lit.
Huguenot Sunday - Le dimanche des Huguenots
This special service is held each year to mark the anniversary of the Promulgation of the Edict of Nantes on April 15, 1598. On this day, King Henry IV granted freedom of worship to France's Calvinist Protestants, who were known as Huguenots. This edict is a hallmark in the history of tolerance and paved the way for our church's founders to claim the same rights to liberty in the New World. We are joined in this celebration by members of the Huguenot Society of America.
Annual General Meeting Sunday - L'assemblée Générale de l'église
As required by the church by-laws, we present a summary annual report of the church to our parishioners that make all these activities possible. We may be the “small village church in the heart of Manhattan” but our list of activities belies our small size. It is at this meeting that Vestry Members are elected.
Pentecost - La pentecote
Since our church goes by the name of the Holy Spirit (Saint-Esprit), the day of Pentecost has special significance for us. Our Sunday service is followed by a reception in the garden where we celebrate
Summer Party - La fête de fin d'année
Often held on a Saturday evening, this party is a 'graduation' party of sorts for our hardworking students where we celebrate the achievements of our students and the contributions of teachers and parishioners that made these lessons possible.
Bastille Day - Célébration de la prise de la Bastille
On the Sunday closest to July 14, the anniversary of the liberation of the Bastille prison in 1789, the French Community hosts a street party outside the church. Our Sunday service on this day celebrates the French traditions of liberty, equality and brotherhood, and is followed by a spirited party in our garden with dancing and the singing of French popular songs, accompanied by an accordionist.
Because many of our parishioners are from French-speaking Africa, we dedicate a special Sunday service to celebrate their rich heritage and contributions to our congregation. We sing French African hymns and pray especially for the continent of Africa and its people. The church and garden are decorated with the colors and flags of Africa, and we enjoy a reception with African food, music and dancing.
French classes resume in early September, and this Rentrée Sunday (or Home Coming) service celebrates the contributions of volunteers to the life of Saint Esprit. A reception after the service offers a chance to meet church members, the Rector, the Vestry, and to learn more about our wide range of activities. Please, consult our calendar to know when Rentrée Sunday is this year.
Our church counts a number of Germanophones among its members, and Saint Esprit has important historical ties to the Rhineland. This service reflects this, with hymns and prayers in French and German, followed by an Oktoberfest celebration in the garden.
All Saints Sunday - La Toussaint
All Saints at Saint Esprit is celebrated like France's traditional Toussaint, which is an opportunity to remember those who have preceded us in faith. We visit the parish's cemetery lot in Queens, where we hold a brief commemorative service and have a picnic.
Many of our parishioners are not from North America, and so we celebrate Dieu Donnée, a harvest service on the Sunday before Thanksgiving Day, followed by a traditional Thanksgiving meal for everyone afterwards.
Usually held on the third Tuesday of December, a service of Evening Prayer is held with French carols and readings which celebrate the birth of Jesus, followed by a pre-Christmas party.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day - La veille et le jour de Noël
The French church holds an early evening service on Christmas Eve and a midday service on Christmas Day. It is the tradition to share a Christmas Yule Log.