Easter services draw locals

BY LISA BRAHM | APRIL 05, 2010 7:30 AM

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Long-distance travel kept good friends Sarah McKee and Carlie Naughton from celebrating Easter at home.

The women, both University of Iowa freshmen, said they weren’t used to spending the holiday away from their families in Council Bluffs. So the students, who were friends in high school, decided to attend Easter Mass at the Newman Catholic Student Center together, where they regularly attend services.

On Sunday, the chapel at the Newman Center was full of students and Iowa City community members, most clad in spring colors, who sang songs honoring the Christian holiday.

The Newman Singers, a student choir founded and directed by Joe Mattingly, the director of music at the center, sang at Easter services earlier in the weekend. Mattingly said he was pleased the Mass attracted a larger congregation than expected.

Mattingly also noted the importance of Easter and said he was thrilled with the weekend-long celebration.

“Easter is the high point of the Catholic and Christian year,” Mattingly said. “Without Easter, there would not be the rest of it.”

Twin brothers Phil and Alex Johnson, 20-year-old UI sophomores, had never been to services at the Newman Center.

But the Easter Mass reminded them of the services they attended at home.

Though they didn’t get to spend Easter with the rest of their family this year, the brothers agreed their parents would be ecstatic to know they attended Easter Mass together.

Nationwide, millions of Americans participated in plays, looked for Easter eggs, and attended church services.

President Obama and his family, the Associated Press said, marked the holiday by attending a service at a historically black Methodist church in southeastern Washington D.C., an area that was rocked by violence just last week.

Both Catholics and Protestants in Jerusalem celebrated with ancient hymns and religious rock bands, reported the Associated Press. In Rome, tens of thousands attended the traditional Mass in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican City.

McKee said while she enjoys a more traditional Catholic Mass than those held at the Newman Center, she appreciates that the “services are more convenient for the life of a student.”

“It was a nice Easter Mass, and I enjoyed the music this week,” she said.

Though Mass at the Newman Center usually draws more students than it did on Easter Sunday, Mattingly said he was pleased with the attendance.

“A lot of students are home with their families for Easter, but we had a great turnout this weekend,” he said.

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