Photo courtesy of Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland

OLD TOWN — “We invited everyone to construct a star to be displayed outside of their homes as a sign of peace, hope, and solidarity.”

The invitation of Fr. Kyle Doustou, pastor of the Parish of the Resurrection of the Lord in Old Town, was answered not only by his own parishioners during Advent, but by Maine Catholics hundreds of miles away.

The project was initially proposed by the Worship and Spirituality Commission at the Parish of the Resurrection of the Lord (Holy Family Church, Old Town; Our Lady of Wisdom Church, Orono; St. Ann Church, Bradley; St. Ann Church, Indian Island) to celebrate the Light of Christ coming into the world at Christmas.

“All of us were excited about the prospect of offering an Advent program, replete with Scripture, prayers, and activities for individuals/families to use as a vehicle for uniting the parish in a meaningful way during Advent, while we are not able to be present to one another,” said Wayne Melanson, a commission member.

For the first activity, parishioners were encouraged to make and display stars as a show of solidarity with the Church and the community. The stars could be simple or elaborate and be made out of whatever materials the parishioners wished.

“Given the difficulties, sadness, and isolation that so many are experiencing this year, we need tangible signs of cheer and goodwill, not to mention faith, hope, and love,” said Fr. Doustou. “Our goal is really very simple: to let the people in our communities know that they’re not alone and that the words of John’s Gospel can be a source of comfort and joy for all of us. ‘The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’ (Jn 1:5).”

Family members, friends and neighbors were invited to join in, and Fr. Doustou also shared the idea with other Christian churches in the area.

“All of them agreed with us that this is a year in which we desperately need to remember … and to see that the Light of Christ still shines and dissipates the darkness in this broken world. Thus, it became an ecumenical community endeavor,” said Melanson.

Two members of the Knights of Columbus, Duane Brasslett and Tim Letourneau, built seven-foot, wooden stars of Bethlehem with LED lights, which were placed on the church lawns.

Fr. Dave Raymond liked the idea as well. Fr. Raymond, pastor of the Parish of the Precious Blood (Holy Rosary Church, Caribou; Sacred Heart Church, Caribou; Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, Presque Isle; Our Lady of the Lake Church, Portage; St. Catherine Church, Washburn; St. Denis Church, Fort Fairfield; St. Joseph Church, Mars Hill; St. Louis Church, Limestone; St. Mark Church, Ashland; St. Theresa Church, Stockholm) encouraged his own parishioners in Aroostook County to join the fun.

A small idea for an act of warmth and kindness grew into a community-wide display of togetherness at a time when it is needed most.

“Just a concrete sign of hope,” said Fr. Doustou.