By Rhina Guidos
SOYAPANGO, El Salvador — The Easter Bunny doesn’t live here. There are no egg hunts, no large bags of candy for sale or Easter baskets or bonnets in these crowded streets. But there are crowded churches and the advent of Easter has never been more alive.
Crowd gathers on Good Friday in Soyapango, El Salvador. (CNS photo/Rhina Guidos)
In El Salvador, which means “The Savior” in Spanish, and which is named after Christ, Holy Week leading up to the Easter Vigil, the big event here, is bigger than Christmas, New Year’s and Easter combined.
In Soyapango, people take most, if not the entire week off of work, and attend about 30 different public acts.
“It’s not a family holiday in the sense that people don’t spend their time around a table with food,” said Father Estefan Turcios Carpaño, the parish priest at San Antonio Parish in Soyapango, the third largest municipality in the country with about 290,000 predominantly Catholic residents.
Parishioners spend their time at a different table, the table of the Lord, he said.
Lines for those waiting for the sacrament of reconciliation have been long, leaving many to wait an hour or two, or longer, for confession. On Thursday, the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Salvador ran out of hosts for those who attended the chrism Mass in the capital nearby.
It’s hard to move through the streets because they’re swollen with the faithful participating in the religious processions, and even the smaller events, such as the re-enactment of Jesus in the olive grove. There are crosses everywhere, reminders of how special this time is, even inside the small sauna of a nearby holistic center.
Women stand in line for Good Friday services Soyapango, El Salvador. (CNS photo/Rhina Guidos)
San Antonio can only accommodate about 2,000 to 3,000 at a time in the main church. While it would be enviable to any pastor, the parish faces a problem of physical space.
The church swells so much during Holy Week that Father Turcios has had to employ the help of other priests to celebrate Mass and Holy Week events in separate events in nearby neighborhoods, to stave off people from the main church.
He has found a way to broadcast (Read More)