Liturgy available to parishes marking World AIDS Day

Published November 1, 2004

The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) has created a vigil liturgy, with a special focus on women, girls, and HIV-AIDS, for use by parishes and groups on World AIDS Day this Dec. 1.

The vigil service, designed for use during the first week of Advent (but which can be adapted for use throughout the year), was inspired by an event witnessed by Zaida Bastos, PWRDF co-ordinator for Africa, during a visit to a Point of Light house, a project supported by PWRDF in Etwatwa, South Africa.

“Mothers in their 20s and 30s who know they are dying of AIDS gather weekly in Point of Light houses to share their experience with one another in a pastoral setting and build Memory Boxes that will be given to their children on the day they die,” PWRDF said in a release explaining the vigil. “The women invited Zaida to share their lunch and later shared letters they had put in their Memory Boxes — stories about where they came from, how they contracted AIDS, letters to their children.”

Profoundly moved, Ms. Bastos shared this experience with PWRDF staff who asked the Point of Light group if some of these letters could be read at this year’s World AIDS Day vigil. Point of Light agreed to send some letters, which are now part of this year’s vigil ceremony.

“Within a circle surrounding the first single light of an Advent wreath, participants have an experience both of being a guest in the Point of Light circle, and taking ownership of the experience by reading the women’s letters aloud,” read the PWRDF release.

During the service, participants will respond to the letters with a sung refrain, accompanied by a drum “heartbeat,” and “several beats of stillness.” They will then read Scripture and prayer and in closing, be invited to light candles from the Advent wreath and say aloud or silently the names of those they know who are affected by HIV/AIDS. Participants will also be invited to sign a thank you note that PWRDF will send to Etwatwa.

The 40-minute liturgy consists of a leader’s guide and complete text, an order of service for participants, and letters.

For more information, contact Yvonne Lane at (416) 924-9199 ext. 316; [email protected] or 80 Hayden St., Toronto, ON, M4Y 3G2.


  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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