From the Pastor…
This last Saturday evening we held our second annual Parish Picnic. By all accounts, it was a great success.
As we did last year, we began the evening with an outdoor Mass at 5:30pm in the courtyard. By Mass time, the courtyard was pretty well packed with participants. All the seats were taken, and people were lined up around the perimeter. Instead of the odor of incense, participants enjoyed the smoky smell of charcoal-grilled burgers and dogs cooking at the far end of the courtyard. And instead of the organ, participants sang hymns to the accompaniment of Gus Garay and his band. Joe Messina, our Director of Worship, estimated that there were between 450 and 500 persons present for Mass. All told, there was definitely a good energy among us.
Immediately after Mass, those present shifted into eating mode. Besides the burgers and dogs, grilled to perfection by our local chapter of the Knights of Columbus, there were pot luck sides and cupcakes for dessert. The younger ones among us waited till the elders in our community got their portions, but I believe that everyone got enough to eat, though there were not many leftovers.
Then, after the food was gone, parishioners lingered over beer and glasses of wine while scores of kids danced in the courtyard to Gus’ band, which had shifted from sacred music to more familiar pop and rock.
The weather was perfect, the food was great, the atmosphere was upbeat, and everyone seemed to have fun. Several things struck me about the event. First, there were wonderful mixes of old and young parishioners, children and adults, and singles and families present for the event. Parishioners who don’t normally cross paths found themselves sharing a table. In other words, the picnic was exactly the community-building event that we hoped it would be. Second, many parishioners had a different experience of Eucharist than they were used to. Some folks mentioned to me that the outdoor Mass was the first they had attended, and they liked it. Third, the parish picnic is the sort of event that allows broad parishioner participation. Just about everybody contributed something, whether food, music, or their labor. There are few, if any, activities that STM does over the course of the year that engage so many and so varied a group of parishioners.
I do want to thank several individuals who led the effort to make the Mass and picnic happen.
For the second year in a row, Erin Brewster coordinated the project, but not from afar. Erin was always at the center of things. She recruited several parishioners to share the planning and set-up duties, including Corcelles Capps and Jody Terlisner.
Marie Diebold, the STM parish Secretary, coordinated the parish staff.
Gus Garay and his band provided wonderful music for the Mass and for the dinner and social afterwards. Parishioners may not have noticed, but Gus and his group did not take a break from the moment Mass began at 5:30pm till the end of the evening at 8:30pm.
Philip Lee, the Grand Knight of our local Knights of Columbus chapter, quickly said “yes” when I asked if the Knights would again be responsible for grilling the burgers and dogs. About a dozen Knights worked the grill, and they did a wonderful job.
Joe Messina would have done regular duty had we done Eucharist in the big church, but when we decided to do Mass in the courtyard, his duties doubled.
Our parish Young Adult Ministry (YAMs) judged the cupcake contest and helped with the set-up and clean-up, and Michele McHale-Pickard and several of her Edge kids and LifeTeens helped with serving and clean-up.
Todd Hines and Aaron Daniecki, our Maintenance staff, worked most of Saturday cleaning the courtyard and assembling the platforms for the altar and band, and setting up chairs and tables. In addition, Todd returned after the picnic was over to do much of the heavy clean-up.
Thanks to all of these and others who made the parish picnic so enjoyable for the rest of us.