Festivities and Special Services
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. Come join us for these unique celebrations.
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 amongs 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
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 parishoners 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.
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
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.
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!
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, the Christian calendar's traditional forty-day period of prayer and introspection. At Saint Esprit, Ash Wednesday is commemorated with a midday service for the application of ashes to the forehead, a reminder of our mortality. These ashes are made from palm fronds from the previous year's celebration of Palm Sunday.
Holy Week and Easter
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.
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.
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.
On the Sunday closest to July 14, the anniversary of the liberation of the Bastille prison in 1789, The Alliance Française 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.