ADAMS -- The Blessed John Paul Parish celebrated its second to last "Nights of Reflection/Soup and Silence" event Tuesday with a children's "Pizza and Prayer" night.
The program, which takes place over five consecutive Tuesdays in February and March, gives the Catholic community of Adams the opportunity to come together spiritually and prepare for Easter in a relaxed atmosphere.
"We wanted to do a Lenten experience for the five weeks of Lent," said the Rev. Daniel J. Boyle, pastor of the Parish of Blessed John Paul, adding that it's the first year they did all five weeks.
According to Mary Whitman, a co-chair of the Spiritual Life Committee, which organizes the program, the "Nights of Reflection/Soup and Silence" program is in its seventh year and Tuesday night's event marked the fourth year they had a children's night, so children in the Catholic community can gain an understanding of Lent.
The idea for the program came from Deacon Robert Moulton, who had been on retreats in the past. He spoke about monks reflecting for Lent by being prayerful and having basic soup with a bit of bread, as well as soft music.
At the events, every attendee receives a bowl of soup and some bread to sit and eat quietly before the guest speaker gives a talk. Immediately following each event is the Stations of the Cross and confession.
Different speakers through the years have given a reflection on what Lent is using passages from the Bible and share those reflections with attendees so that they may internalize it on their own. The speakers come from a variety of backgrounds, including retired priests and guest priests from different parishes.
"They're personally helping us go through this," Whitman said, adding that each speaker gives a different message.
Whitman said the program, which is held in the Notre Dame School cafeteria, has grown every year; they started with 20 people and have now reached over 50.
"People really enjoy it," said Paula Hilchey, a member of the Spiritual Life Committee. Whitman added that attendees really like to hear what other speakers from different parishes have to say.
"It's a marvelous program," Boyle said. "I think we're going to stick with it in future years."
Deacon Gregory LaFreniere will be the guest speaker at the next and final event of this year's program, on Tuesday, March 19.
"My topic next week is going to be a look at the universal church," he said. In 2005, when Pope John Paul II died, LaFreniere spent Holy Week in Sudan, Africa. His slideshow presentation will show people how the church is experienced there.
"Deacon Greg was there to experience it and take pictures," Hilchey said.
Boyle hopes attendees get a deeper sense of what Lent is all about through the program.
"Hopefully it makes their Easter and Holy week more fulfilling," he said. "It's a faith-deepening experience."