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SRO fills Ansonia church for a festive feast of the Epiphany

January 7, 2019 GMT

ANSONIA-A Mariachi band provided a Latin flare to the conventional Ave Maria and Gloria Nasturtium.

A live donkey led the procession of the three kings into the church before being penned into a live manger, complete with ducks, goats, rabbits and a sheep off to the left of the altar..

And the priest, likening himself to a shepherd tending his flock, held a three-week old sleepy lamb close to his chest during the Homily.

At a time when Catholic churches have been wrestling with a decline in attendance, a standing room only crowd of about 600 parishioners filled the Church of the Assumption Sunday during its 10:30 a.m. Mass celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany—one of the Roman Catholic church’s holiest Sundays.

“I think it gave the parishioners a feeling of what it was like in Bethlehem,” the Rev. James Sullivan said following the Mass. “The Feast of the Epipheny is a very important holy day for Catholics in Europe and Latin America. We have a big European and Latin American population in the Valley. I wanted to make them feel important by bringing their culture and traditions here.”

So the church brought in six members of the Mariachi Mexico Antiguo band from Wallingford using their vihuela, guitarron, trumpet, three violens and performed the hymns and the responses.

“It turned out so beautiful,” said Mary Cardenas, an Ansonia resident. “I am speechless. I already told the band they will be back next year.”

Sullivan called on a grade school friend, Kelly Cronin of Prospect, who operates Farm on Wheels and Kelly’s Kids, a summer camp and therapeutic program for special needs and foster children.

“This is the first time we’ve done something like this inside a church,” Cronin said. “It was a little difficult. The animals are not used to this.”

However children flocked to the pen following the Mass touching and asking about the animals.

“We put this all together in a matter of days,” Sullivan said. “When you do something from the heart everything falls into place.”

And such accomplishments are nothing new during Sullivan’s nearly four year stay at Assumption.

In 2016 he bicycled 372 miles from the church to Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal to raise money

While the band often performs in Hispanic churches upstate, this was the first time they played at Assumption.

“It was wonderful, amazing,” said Margeret Steczkowski, who attended the Mass with her husband Kamil and their daughters, Nicole, 10 and Megan, 8. “In Europe this is our second Christmas. Father Sullivan brought God to life today.”