Detroit parish holds first “blessing of the purses”

This is something new to me:

Churches have long held special ceremonies to bless the sick, pets, bikes and more.

Now a church in Detroit has celebrated its first “Blessing of the Purses.”

The first annual event, held Sunday at Good Shepherd Catholic Church, was aimed at praying for financial stability in a city that has struggled with poverty but also is still reeling from the recession.

“The city has experienced financial depression,” said the Rev. Michael Nkachukwu, pastor of Good Shepherd. “We are hopeful we are going to come back.”

The church, located a few blocks away from Detroit’s Belle Isle, invited members of nearby St. Augustine & St. Monica Catholic Church and Celestial Tabernacle Baptist Church for an ecumenical service.

About 100 people attended, carrying shoulder bags, clutches, hobos and satchels.

They sang hymns, prayed for economic power and also for an end to violence in Detroit.

“What can we do about the economy? What can we do about the violence,” asked the Rev. Elizabeth Scales, pastor of Celestial Tabernacle. “God gives us an answer in his word …We want God to heal the land. But God said, “You have to do something for me first. You have to seek me and you shall find me.'”

During the service, participants gathered around the altar and held their purses and wallets in the air as the clergy prayed and sprinkled holy water over them.

Detroiter JoAnn James said the service was beautiful but also needed.

“The financial stability of households is on women, especially in this community,” said James, 54. “Women now are holding a lot of the burden in households today.”

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