Annual festivals not only raise much-needed funds, but help to build community. Games and a food truck court were part of the recent festival at Holy Spirit Parish, Fremont.
All: ALBERT C. PACCIORINI/THE CATHOLIC VOICE
||Parishioners, like these at Holy Spirit in Fremont, look forward to festivals for entertainment, games and multicultural food.
Festivals raise funds — and build
community — for parishes
As parishioners throughout the Diocese of Oakland divide themselves into committees, put the finishing touches on quilts and Christmas ornaments, fire up the grill to feed hundreds, dust off game booths stored in church basements and attend to hundreds of details, there's something bigger at work.
Fall festivals, annual events for many parishes and schools, not only raise much-needed funds, but they help to build community.
"Our parish festival brings the school and parish community together," said Rev. Stephan Kappler, pastor of St. Jarlath Parish in Oakland. The festival is held every other year. This year, the festival will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 16.
The festival, with its raffle, is an important fundraiser for the school and parish, Father Kappler said, but "just as important, it builds community."
"It's a bridge-building event between the school and parish," he said. The festival helps people get to know one another, he said. "We come together as one community," he said, reflecting the parish mission: "Together in Christ, we're more."
The daylong festival will include games, entertainment and foods from the cultures that make the parish their home.
At All Saints, which celebrated its diamond — 75th — festival last year, the fall fiesta continues to be a gem.
"It's one of our major fundraisers," said Father Ramon Gomez, pastor of the Hayward church.
The fiesta offers an opportunity for the ethnic communities of the parish to come together, Father Gomez said, "Ibo, Filipino, Latino, Tongan, Chamorro and Portuguese."
The music and entertainment — along with the delicious food offerings — provide the opportunity for parishioners "to celebrate who we are" as well as "raise needed funds," the pastor said.
All Saints School students get the first crack at the festival, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sept. 16 with alumni of the school and parish coming in at the 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. time slot. On Sept. 17 and 18, it's open to everyone.
In Byron, the St. Anne Fall Festival & Craft Fair is set for Sept. 16 to 17. A spaghetti dinner on Friday evening will be followed by Bingo (18 and older to play). A craft fair and festival follows from noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 17.
It's both a "fund and fun" raiser for the church, said Sister Barbara Nixon, SNJM, who is coordinating the event, which is growing each year.
"It's a great coming together" of parishioners, Sister Barbara said. Many young families make the festival the last stop after a day full of soccer, enjoying games, entertainment and "great food," she said, including "an all-American hamburger cooked with a special twist by one of our Hispanic moms."
Gift baskets are raffled, and the parish has another raffle with tickets mailed to parishioners.
The Knights of Columbus offer a soccer kick challenge as part of the fun. The junior high students, from The Edge faith formation program, take an active part in the festivities.
The fall festival at St. John the Baptist Church in San Lorenzo has some traditions that will be honored at this year's edition.
The festival begins from 5 to 9 p.m. Sept. 30, Saturday and opens with cheerleaders, from second- through eighth-grades at the parish school, cheering on the crowds. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Oct. 1.
The festival wraps up with a breakfast and raffle drawing in the morning on Oct. 2.
With a new pastor and a new principal, there's lots new at the parish this year. The festival's free admission and free entertainment standards remain the same.
The raffle is offering bigger prize money this year, said Juanita Velasquez, who is the chair of the 2016 fall festival.
A student talent show will be featured Friday evening, followed by a band performance. There will be entertainment all day Saturday, too.
The Knights of Columbus will staff a barbecue booth, a local restaurant will staff a Latino food both, and there will be a Filipino food booth.
Two delicious booths have been added to the food offerings: a funnel cake booth and a sweet tooth booth, featuring such treats as candy and root beer floats.
After a long hiatus, St. Michael Parish in Livermore is bringing back its traditional fall festival this year on Oct. 1 and 2. Corry Painter, a veteran of six parish festivals, was asked by the pastor, Rev. Van Dinh, to revive the tradition.
"The last one we did was in 1999. So after 17 years we are happy to bring back this wonderful tradition," Painter said. "I basically called the same people running the subcommittees and told them they have to get back to work. We are using the same things we used in 1999."
Back then the festival stretched over a three-day weekend, usually the weekend closest to the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, the patron saint of the parish, on Sept. 29. This time around the parish festival will be on two days and will honor the feast of St. Lorenzo Ruiz, the Church's first Filipino saint whose feast day is Sept. 28, along with St. Michael.
After the 9:30 a.m. Mass Oct. 2, a procession with the statues of San Lorenzo Ruiz and St. Michael will take place from the church to the school yard and will be blessed by Father Van. "Then we will have a celebration with Filipino, Vietnamese and Hispanic cultural dances," Painter said.
Other festival highlights will include a haunted house, game booths, food booths, silent and live auctions and a "Bayou Dinner and Ball" sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. "The festival will be a fun experience for the whole family."
In deference to ongoing construction, St. Raymond Parish in Dublin is forgoing its annual festival this year — with plans for it to return to the calendar next year.
"We definitely want to bring it back next year, and make it affordable," said Eric Hom, business manager.
With an affordable time is — water bottles for a dollar, and cotton candy at $1.50, it's more of a community builder than a fundraiser, he said.
What parishioners looked forward to: the entertainment, including the bands, Hom said, and, the multicultural food. An Indian food booth made its debut last year, an acknowledgement of the growing Indian population in the area.
The parish will celebrate its new building with a ribbon-cutting on Oct. 1.
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