MONROE—If you happened to walk by the Monroe town green anytime between August 1 and August 3, you might have noticed a group of individuals gathered in the gazebo, reading from scripture. This three-day gathering has been a five-year tradition for the parishioners of St Jude Church in Monroe, as well as people from other local churches. From 8 am to 8 pm each day, participants engaged in a Bible Reading Marathon, wherein they read from Scripture together.
Betty Anne Casaretti, a parishioner of St. Jude’s and the coordinator of this event, says that each year, “we pick up where we left off last year.” Having started with the book of Genesis, some of the books that follow in the Old Testament can be challenging to undertake, she says. The book of Exodus, for example, contains many laws within it, including the Ten Commandments. Even though this passage is one that is commonly heard and taught through Mass attendance and religious education, Casaretti says that when she and St. Jude’s parochial vicar, Father James Bates, read the passage together as part of this event, “it brought me to tears.” At any point throughout the days, people are encouraged to ask questions about what they are reading, too. “The different voices and churches expand the dynamic of our faith community,” she says. For all who gather, this event provides them an opportunity to listen to and encounter God’s love through His Word.
One of the most exciting things for Casaretti about the Bible Reading Marathon is that each year yields more and more readers from St. Jude’s. For her, though, it isn’t about the numbers. The Bible Reading Marathon “allows us to be a witness to unity in our faith community and to proclaim God’s Word.” She has been able to experience the effect of their witness through passersby in previous years. “We’re located near a cross section of streets. People come up to just sit and listen in the gazebo. I always bring extra Bibles!” she says.
Overall, Casaretti says the response from participants has been “consistently strong.” Other diocesan parishes have joined in the Marathon, namely St. Rose of Lima Church in Newtown and St. Joseph Church in Shelton. Local ethnic communities also participate, so the Word of God has been proclaimed in both Portuguese and Korean.
Casaretti is thankful for these opportunities of evangelization for strangers and for her fellow parishioners, which are ultimately orchestrated by God. “It’s all God’s favor. God is a very big God and He’s working beyond what we do!” she says.