Padre Paul’s Ponderings: Harvest Festival: A Testament to 150 Years of Community

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the chance to do a few interviews with local papers along with Bridget Samson and John Loch, a parishioner who is a local history expert, particularly with respect to the history of our parish. Reporters have asked us questions about the upcoming Harvest Festival, and also on the history of the parish.

  While I’ve only been pastor for a whopping 2.2% of the history of the parish, one of the things that I’ve learned about our history from these conversations is how throughout this time, so many people have come out to do so much for the parish and for one another. From the building of the churches, to the volunteer activities, to helping others in need, this has been something that has gone on unchecked for 150 years, and will continue to do so as so many have a remarkable attitude of being thankful, and wanting to give back.

  Needless to say, next weekend is a big weekend coming up. While I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about the Harvest Festival by this point, I’d like to use this space this week to give one last push to this big event by reminding you to please come.

  The fun begins Friday night with our Oktoberfest Night as a tip of the hat to our German Heritage (those of you of Irish decent don’t stop reading). We’ll have brats, kraut, homemade pretzels (and most importantly, ketchup for the brats) and French fries. There’ll be a craft fair that night with 30+ crafters and  entertainment by the “Jolly Zuks Band.” Once upon a time when I was in college and in seminary, a place I loved to visit was Gasthof’s in Nord’East Minneapolis. It’s been about 15 years (though I still have my glass boot I won) but “Jolly Zuks” was the resident accordion player there. I can assure you Friday night will be a lot of fun. We’ll also be having a wine toss and an unveiling of our time line as well as the histroy DVD. So too will there be all sorts of games and inflatables for kids, Bingo ongoing (this is a Catholic festival after all!) and of course a beer hall too. Don’t forget the raffle, the dart game, the country store, pull tabs and punch wall. This will also be going on Saturday too.

  On Saturday we will have a “fun run” (is running ever really “fun” though? It’s fun when it’s over, but I digress). This will be a 3.10 mile run (or 5K, but as an American, I refuse to go metric). The 5K run is first at 9am followed by the kids at 11am.  I’ll be jogging in it as well, though I’m pretty sure my t-shirt has an orange triangle on the back for “slow moving vehicle” so the faster runners can pass. Stay after the 5K Run and enjoy the Craft Fair from 9-3 pm with over 30 Crafters showing their creations.  As the day goes on you can get the Knights of Columbus famous “Pork Chop on a Stick” from 11 to 2pm, and then concessions will be available in the evening (not to be confused of course with confessions, which will be at 4 p.m. in the Church, festival and non-festival weekends).

  At 5 p.m. we welcome the Archbishop (please say something nice about the pastor so he is not transferred to Green Bay, he doesn’t like the team there). Seriously it is quite an honor to have Archbishop Hebda with us, and it has been a real joy as a priest to get to know him a bit. He communicates well with the priests and has a servant’s heart, and we are so blessed to have him as the shepherd of our local church. He will preside at Mass which will have “Polka Music.”  Following Mass, at 6 p.m. we’ll have our delicious chicken dinner. And then you can take in the “Chimielewski Funtime” Band from 6pm to 10pm. And all the other fun activities for the kids and the grown ups with the bingo, inflatables, punch wall and other events will be ongoing too. We’ll end Saturday with a fireworks display starting at 10:15 (Kirby my dog is not too happy about this, so he’ll be staying at the house for that one).

  Sunday, prior to the Vikings defeating the Packers, we’ll be having our usual three morning Masses. “Sister Tree” Duo will be providing live entertainment as well from 9:30am to 10:30am and again from 11:30am to 1:00pm. In between Masses, you can join us for a complimentary continental breakfast too.

  Needless to say it’s a huge festival, and I’d just like to close by pointing out again how so many people here work together for the greater good. I think if you knew very little about our history, one thing that would stand out was how people of Irish and German decent worked together. You sometimes did not see that, particularly in the era when the parish was built. While we come together often and America is a “melting pot” where we all are Americans, in some parishes there has been an unhealthy separation that reared itself and went beyond rivalry. I’ve seen none of this here at Saint Joe’s, because it speaks to this remarkable selfless attitude. People here “get it.” They realize that when Jesus washed the feet of the apostles, that is what we are called to do. They are committed to their parish. People here don’t do things with a “whats in it for me” mentality or to be seen. They may be Irish, German, or of many backgrounds but they primarily cared about service to God and one another no matter who they were. Most importantly people take ownership of their parish. They love to serve. This wonderful festival is a testament to that fact – it’s being put on by an army, has been in the plans since last fall, and has so many working behind the scenes who want nothing more than to help us celebrate 150 amazing years.

  So, I hope you’ll help us to do just that next week. And again, thank you for helping make not just this festival possible, but this beautiful parish possible. As Saint Paul says in 1 Cor. 3:9, we are God’s co-workers and God’s building. Thank you for helping to build something beautiful, and as we look to the past and celebrate our history, we also look to the future which I see as incredibly bright because of so many here responding to the Holy Spirit and the words of Jesus, “love one another as I have loved you.”

Many Blessings,

Fr. Paul