“It is an Easter miracle,” said the girl’s mother, Kathy Flemming, a Buffalo bank owner.
More than a thousand people filled the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in the District for a noon Mass in Spanish. There were little boys in shiny white suits with bow ties and girls swaddled in clouds of colorful lace, but many more were dressed in jeans or T-shirts. They spilled into the aisles and stood two deep in back as the dusky stone nave filled with incense and music.
“Que viva Cristo! Cristo esta resucitado!” the Rev. Kevin Thompson said in welcoming the crowd to a joyous celebration that included the baptism of about two dozen children in a rite that signifies a spiritual rebirth within the church.
Some were old enough to be soaked with a bowed head and a show of stoicism. But one little beauty, her hair in pigtails, seemed perfectly calm until the priest poured a basin of holy water over her head, causing her to kick and wail as the priest intoned a blessing. The congregation chuckled and applauded as Thompson held the wet baby above his head.
After accepting Communion and a final blessing, the crowd turned out into an afternoon filled with sunshine and cool breezes.
“This feast gives us hope,” Thompson said afterward. “It’s a day that reminds us that nothing is impossible.”
Luis Marroquin, 53, who attended with his two daughters, Christian, 14, and Jaqueline, 12, said he would never miss Easter rites at his church. But he also said that as lovely as the service and celebrations were, they were nothing compared with the Easter festivities in his native El Salvador. There, Easter is one of the most solemn and festive holidays of the year, and its celebration goes on for several days.
“Right now, we just go home, maybe have a dinner and go back to work,” said Marroquin, who owns Taqueria Distrito Federal in Columbia Heights.