The joys of Saturday evening Vigil

I usually go to Divine Liturgy on Sunday mornings but for important reasons, I attended two Saturday evening Vigils last month. They were offered for the repose of the souls of my grandparents, Helen and John, of Charleroi, Pa.; and my Aunt Anita.

I hadn’t been to a Saturday Vigil in a long time but it was a fulfilling change. For one thing, I’ve never been accused of being a “morning person.” I find it lot more relaxing getting ready to attend an evening service than getting out of bed any morning.

Saturday evening Vigils also hearken back to my younger days. In my youth, when I visited my grandparents in Monessen, Pa. for a weekend, I always sat in the front pew — either the first or second row — on the left side with my grandma at St. Mary on Saturday evenings.

(Since both of my grandmas are named “Helen,” I used to think all grandmas had that same name…) My grandpap usually had to work various tasks behind the scenes during the Vigil as the church’s sacristan. As a pre-teen, Monsignor Andrew Parvensky — who performed my baptism — was always a commanding and intimidating presence.

I especially remember, at the conclusion of the Vigil or Divine Liturgy, he usually wouldn’t recite a complete rundown of the upcoming week’s activities at St. Mary. Rather, he would hold the bulletin aloft in his hand and announce to parishioners even though I always heard it as a stern command — in his deep, bellowing voice:

“Announcements, read in the bulletin!” After Vigil, we waited in the church hall for my grandpap to finish his chores and it was off in the Plymouth Reliant to Hills department store to look at “Star Wars” action figures. Then it was back to the house on Aliquippa Avenue to order pizza from La Eda’s Family Restaurant.

I was able to get a tray of its square pizza slices last year and I am happy to report it tastes exactly the same as in the 1980s, which is to say: exquisite. Those Saturday night memories remain extremely vivid all these years later in 2019.