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Local Catholics create sacred spaces at home


To provide some inspiration and peace Len and Char Reynolds created a prayer space in their home. (Provided photo)


By Lynda J. Hemmerling

NWIC Correspondent


        After living in pajamas and sweatpants for days during social distancing brought on by the coronavirus, the Pingoy Family got dressed for Mass.

        While Mary Grace Pingoy got the children ready, her husband Ray Pingoy transformed the family room into a sacred space.

        Ray Pingoy is coordinator of human dignity and solidarity and Theology of the Body for the Archdiocese of Chicago. He surprised the family with a mini re-creation of Mass on March 22 in their St. John home.

        He set up a bench adjacent to the kitchen, covered the table with a cloth and added the family Bible, candles and incense. He even had a small processional crucifix that eldest son Gabriel, 10, was able to carry.

        Mary Grace Pingoy was thrilled when her children were active participants in the Mass celebrated on television by Father Sammie Maletta, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church. The children processed into the room carrying the crucifix, Bible and incense before taking their places on the bench.

        In an effort to embrace the live streaming of Mass, the couple have set up a sacred space during this time of quarantine, transforming their family room into a Domestic Church as inspired by Saint Pope John Paul II.

        “We miss our physical church so much,” Mary Grace Pingoy stated. “We have taken for granted that we could go to Mass each week. This feeling, this longing for Christ in his physical presence and only having him in his spiritual presence, reaffirms our faith.”

        Pingoy said the space is a reminder of God’s presence in her family’s life.

        Creating a sacred space is a recommendation of Father Chris Stanish, chaplain of St. Teresa of Avila Student Center in Valparaiso.

        Father Stanish, in a recent Facebook post, noted that establishing a sacred space allows people to be “saints in solitude” and “connect the home to the Church.”

        He encouraged people to set up a simple spot where they can “enter more deeply into worship and into prayer” and then share photos of the space with others.

        Stanish’s table includes a Bible, statue of Mary holding Infant Jesus, holy water and candle.

St. John the Evangelist parishioner Michelle Rivero of Schererville said her family’s sacred space is in the family room, where she has a rosary from Medjugorje hanging on her wall. She also has statues of Our Lady, Saint Anthony and more. “We have a big TV in there; it’s our family gathering space,” she said.

        LaPorte resident Lindsay Jeffress said her family typically uses the kitchen as their common prayer space. It is where she displays a paper chain her two sons add to each day, recounting their daily Lenten good deeds.

        “We set aside special time for prayer. We are very vigilant. That’s who we are and what we believe,” Jeffress said. “We pray every day and say the Pledge (of Allegiance) like they do in school.”

        Stanish said a sacred space “is a reminder to everybody in the house that prayer is an essential part of every single day.”

        Setting up a sacred space will help people “be the saint God called you to be,” he said.

        Mary Grace Pingoy noted that it is important to be open to God’s call.

        “Maybe God could be calling one of my sons (to be a priest); we don’t know what’s in God’s plan,” she said. “What we know is that God is so present with us and in control.”

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