Summer is a time for communities to draw together through special events — and to commemorate the feast of St. Bonaventure — which several ministries around Holy Name Province did this month.
On July 14, St. Bonaventure Parish in Paterson, N.J., held a farewell party for Robert Norton, OFM, who was assigned effective July 15 — the saint’s feast day — to St. Anthony Church in Butler, N.J. “Fr. Bob had only been with us a little over a year but had made a big impact,” said Christopher VanHaight, OFM, pastor. “Many parishioners commented on how they would miss his sense of humor and ready smile.”
Robert celebrated the 11:30 a.m. Mass, just before a potluck lunch was served. “The potluck idea was new for this year,” said Chris, who mentioned that more than 100 parishioners attended. “Having the potluck on the Sunday before the feast day seems to have worked out much better and we will repeat this next year.”
Parishioners lunched on fried chicken, empanadas, pasta, and other entrees. “A good time was had by all, even if saying farewell to Fr. Bob was bittersweet,” said Chris.
In Western New York, St. Bonaventure Parish in Allegany commemorated its patron saint on July 13. For the 35th year, the church held Bonafest, the one-day parish fair. The weather cooperated, said James Vacco, OFM, pastor, with low humidity during a very sticky summer.
The day began with more than 100 people participating in a 5K walk/run along the Allegany River Trail at nearby St. Bonaventure University. Among those who laced up their running shoes for the event was student friar John Aherne, OFM. Festivities continued on the church grounds at noon. “There was a steady stream of people all afternoon,” said James, with standing-room-only in the tent at one point during the day.
Live music from four bands, a Chinese auction of baskets, and a vendor selling T-shirts with Jim’s caricature livened up the festivities. The T-shirts were so popular that they had to be re-ordered, said Jim, and their sale, along with a raffle and other fundraising activities, brought in more than $10,000. Some friars from the university — including Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, who taught at the Franciscan Institute this summer — came and had dinner at Bonafest.
While money raised was still being tallied, Jim said estimates “look very good.” The money raised will be used to help pay for repair of the church’s stained glass windows and other building maintenance.
Carnivals and Seasonal Events
Summer also means a time for parish carnivals, block parties and other seasonal events at Holy Name Province ministries.
St. Stephen of Hungary Parish in New York City, where Angelus Gambatese, OFM, is pastor, held a picnic on July 23. “Twilight Tuesday – Summer at St. Stephen” enabled parishioners to share conversation and good food while watching the sun set on New York. The event was a way for church-goers to get to know each other better.
It wouldn’t be summer in Pompton Lakes, N.J., without the annual church/school carnival, which took place this year from July 8 to 15. The carnival, which began in the 1970s, is a fundraiser for the parish school, and includes rides, games and refreshments, according to Lawrence Anderson, OFM.
The St. Mary’s Carnival is a community event on the church parking lot that includes a car raffle, according to Lawrence, and the weather held up well.
None of the friars took a seat in the dunking booth, but they did walk around and greet people, he said.
The carnival takes almost an entire year to plan by a volunteer committee and school staffers, and is a way to help the school keep tuition down, Larry added.
Festivals and Block Parties
Next week, the St. Francis Festival of the Sea begins at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Brant Beach, N.J. This is the 38th year of the community event that takes place at the parish and St. Francis Community Center parking lot. It includes all the standard fair favorites – rides, food, games and raffles.
“There’s something for everyone at the festival,” said pastor Steven Kluge, OFM, of the Aug 7 to 11 event.“Delicious carnival food, rides for all ages, and the classic games of chance that we all grew up with and loved.
Last month, St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia held its annual block party. Fred Dilger, OFM, said more than 530 people attended the June 23 event.
The block party, which closes down the street, is a give-back for guests of the inn, and includes music, dancing and food donated by local businesses. As always, Patrick Tuttle, OFM, traveled from South Carolina to serve as the event’s DJ.
Also in June, St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Triangle, Va., held its St. Francis Church Carnival. The four-day event “was an avenue for people to get together in the parish for fellowship and fun,” said Frank Critch, OFM. “The rides were focused on the children as they celebrated the end of the school year and the beginning of summer. The food segment of the carnival created an atmosphere where various cultures could shine and present their culinary delights.”
There were three featured food nights — Thursday was Filipino, Friday was Latino and Saturday was Italian. Frank and postulant Wilmer Garcia helped organize the food for the carnival.
“Most of the food was cooked by parishioners at the parish center or brought from home,” Frank said. “Each night we had a significant number enjoy some amazing international food. It truly was a parish event where there was willing participation and an abundance of food. It was a great time!”
— Wendy Healy is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to HNP Today. Research was provided by Maria Hayes and Jocelyn Thomas.