DAYTONA BEACH | Despite the sweltering heat and rain, Daytona Beach parishioners committed to being the hands and feet of the community.
A crowd of 400 jubilant citizens celebrated Juneteenth June 17, with flair along the streets of Daytona Beach. Our Lady of Lourdes Parish led a patriotic float marking the anniversary of the emancipation of slaves, known as Juneteenth.
After a community breakfast at the church, ministries and outreach groups united for the parade. They had sewed sashes made for their Hometown Heroes — those recognized for their acts of kindness and courage by helping the homeless, fighting for affordable housing, and working with students. Students from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School participated in the festivities.
The Lourdes float joined the other 30 floats and vehicles for the parade. Its goal was to celebrate freedom and the diversity. Motivated by the great cause for celebration, even as rain fell, parishioners continued to dance, wave and splash in puddles.
“On Juneteenth we do more than celebrate the freedom of those living as slaves, but also ending the bondage of those living as oppressors,” said pastor, Father Phil Egitto. “Juneteenth calls us to continue the cause of freedom and justice. In many ways we honor the holy places of protests, the streets, the marches, the public halls, and the seats on the segregated bus. We recall and honor the power to love in spite of hatred.”
Father Egitto added parishioners and parade participants found strength by the conviction of those who dared to break free from both slavery and oppression, whether they risked imprisonment to inspire awareness of an issue or cause, or they bravely took a knee to increase awareness.
“Juneteenth challenges us to be willing to lay down our lives in the cause of equity, as others did for the freedom of the slave, the cause of the union, the end of the confederacy and the continued fight for justice,” he said. “May we continue to have that strength and courage once again today, to recognize the many forms of slavery, inequality, injustice and hate that deplorably continue to plague our society. Juneteenth calls us to recommit ourselves to the building of the kingdom of God.”
Staff report, June 23, 2023