In my town, most of the Catholic churches put on their own summer festivals complete with food, music, and fun. My own parish had its festival this last weekend celebrating the feast of our patroness Our Lady of Mount Carmel (which is today!). And it was great!
I’d been having a rough time and getting to see my big ol’ Italian, Catholic parish together like that boosted my spirits. I’ve been going to the festival for as long as I can remember. My family always volunteers. The last few years we’ve run the Bozo buckets children’s game and helped out at other games where we’re needed and so forth.
A highlight from the weekend is the procession. We gather together in front of the church and walk a loop around the neighborhood. Banners are carried representing different organizations at the church, some of the little girls spread fabric flowers at the front, statues of St. Michael, Padre Pio, and Our Lady of Mount Carmel (our church’s patroness) are carried, and speakers play reciting the rosary. Our priests added something new a year or two ago. For the last stretch of the procession our priests bring out Jesus present in the Holy Sacrament and we have a Eucharistic procession from the front of the church to behind it at the park that, for the weekend, serves as our festival grounds. Father does benediction and then reposes the Host in the church. And that’s how the Sunday of the festival begins.
Then you can eat and drink and play games. You can stock up on Sister’s famous recipe egg rolls; chow down on canolli, Italian doughnuts (yum!) or cream puffs; have a hotdog, pizza, or corn on the cob. You can spend far too much money rolling dice and tossing rings for fabulous prizes as well as the pride and joy of winning. Sip lemonade or eat gelato while listening to a band on the stage. And of course, enter the raffle hoping to win the monetary grand prize or the wheel barrel of wine and treats. And do it all with the knowledge that you’re doing something good for the parish.
So go out and find yourself a Catholic parish festival to enjoy! ‘Cause there ain’t no party like a Catholic party!