"The love was palpable and it felt like even this huge cathedral was barely able to contain it.”
It was an unseasonably warm evening. Volunteers stopped random people on a New York City sidewalk, offering candles and inviting them into St. Patrick’s Cathedral for NightFever, an evangelical outreach program begun at World Youth Day in 2005.
Since NightFever’s inception — a movement aimed at reaching those who have fallen away from their faith and/ or the Church — volunteers have recreated this night of prayer, music and reconciliation over 3,000 times in over 80 cities around the world.
“I think religion can intimidate a lot of people, but this night — it wasn’t about religion,” said Alma Rivera, “So many people were praying and waiting to talk to a priest (who were stationed everywhere to talk to anyone who wanted) that it felt safe to be open to the experience. Many people were so moved by the experience that they were openly crying, including me. The love was palpable and it felt like even this huge cathedral was barely able to contain it.”
The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, a religious order based in New York City, hosted the event shown in the award-winning short film below. This montage, created by Thing in a Pot Productions, features the song “The Little One” by Alyssa Pintar-Breen, and won Best Music Video at The Goodness Reigns Film Fest in 2016.
The film opens with volunteers extending invitations to passers-by. A soft ballad plays as a message flashes over the scenes: “In the city that never sleeps, every heart needs light.” The volunteers receive a wide variety of responses — some invitations are accepted with exuberant hugs and others are ignored with barely a glance. The film then moves inside the church where countless candles illuminate an otherwise dark cathedral; monks in cassocks play guitars; the holy Eucharist is exposed for adoration; and pilgrims in blue jeans (many of whom had other plans for the evening) kneel in prayer.
To learn more about NightFever, visit: https://nightfever.org/us/location/usa/