NEW ORLEANS – From “In the beginning…..” all the way to the last “Amen” in Revelation, a group of volunteers is reading every word of the Bible– nonstop–in front of Notre Dame Seminary on Carrollton Avenue.
When BrotherJohn Joseph, CJC and some of his fellow seminarians decided to hold a public, outdoor reading of God’s word, they didn’t know if anyone would sign up.
“A lot of our advertisement was done on foot,” he says, “going to local churches, both Catholic and Protestant,” asking for volunteers who’d be willing to read a 20-minute segment of the Bible, word for word, at all hours of the day and night.
“We prayed and said, is this something God wants us to do?”
The seminarians started with just nine volunteers, and within days, every available 20-minute slot was filled.
“I knew that it was going to require a little bit of a miracle to get 375 people in less than a week,” he says, “but I knew God could pull it off.”
And not all the volunteers are Christians. A cantor from a local synagogue is expected to read part of the Old Testament in Hebrew, and a seminarian who’s originally from Poland signed up to read part of the Bible in Polish.
In the afternoon sunshine on Tuesday (Jan. 29), as the temperature dropped and the wind picked up, Notre Dame Seminary Rector, Father James Wehner, opened the Good Book to Genesis and began to read.
His voice– strong and sonorous from years of sermons– boomed across the mostly empty front lawn of the Seminary. It’s a low-key event, with “no agenda,” says Fr. Wehner, and “no proseletizing,”
The Bible-reading marathon will continue both day and night until Saturday at 6pm. Then, the seminarians plan to carry candles into the seminary, in celebration of Candlemas, which commemorates the presentation of the infant Jesus at the Jerusalem Temple.
Until then, all are welcome to stop by the front lawn of the seminary to listen to the reading. The sole purpose, says Father Wehner, “is just to read and to sanctify. And however that occurs, in God’s good grace, that’s up to Him.”