Easter, the season of hope, of love, of faith, of life — and of chocolate eggs?
Fr Alejandro de la Sotta, SVD, the chaplain of the Hispanic community in Auckland, and priest in East Coast Bays Catholic parish, was thinking of an alternative for chocolate eggs: something that doesn’t contain sugar and something that lasts longer than the sweet tradition.
During Lent, Fr de la Sotta asked people around him to give him succulent seedlings. These are small plants, easy to care for, but rich in symbolism. By the end of Lent, more than 100 succulent plants had been placed on the table at the back of the presbytery in Mairangi Bay.
Fr de la Sotta had found pots of different colours, filled them with soil and planted the succulents in them. Every day, he checked on the little plants.
On Easter Sunday, the pots with the plants were placed in front of the altar at St Francis de Sales (Torbay) and St John the Baptist (Mairangi Bay) churches.
At the end of Mass, the children were invited to come and pick a plant. However, the plants came with two conditions: only one child per family would get a plant and the child would have to commit themselves to look after the plant. Siblings would have the chance to share this responsibility.
The children were reminded that the plants represented hope and life, as the succulents were growing out of the dark soil. They represented faith that needs to be nurtured to survive and grow, and they represented love as they would grow with loving care.
Fr de la Sotta had cared for the plants during Lent. It was certainly not easy to let go, but the joy in the children’s eyes was a beautiful reward for his commitment.