St. Joseph Parish in Mechanicsburg plans to welcome their parishioners back with a full docket of interesting and unique events this year. The first event took place on July 25, and it consisted of a special afternoon outdoor Mass, followed by a parish picnic featuring a polka band.
Why a polka picnic? In January, a parishioner came to Father Thomas Rozman, pastor, to ask about the parish hosting a polka dance and a Mass with polka music. Around the same time, the Senior Leadership Team at St. Joseph Parish was putting together ideas for a grand reopening to safely welcome parishioners back to the parish after the pandemic. This idea seemed to fit perfectly into the plan, and Clay Keefer, Grand Knight of the parish’s Knights of Columbus Council, wholeheartedly agreed and went to work on putting the idea into motion.
While the polka music provided a draw, the goal was always for the parish community to come together, face-to-face, after so long apart and start to re-establish and rebuild the St. Joseph community. For that reason, the parish decided to completely fund the event without charging any fees. The Knights and Columbiettes, with some support from the parish staff, ran the entire event, including finding the band (The Golden Tones), selecting the menu, taking care of the myriad of behind-the-scenes logistics, setting up, serving, tearing down, and cleaning up. The weather forecast leading up to the event was ominous, with thunderstorms/showers predicted right at the time when the picnic was about to start. The Good Lord took care of things that day, though, and although it was a bit hot, the weather held out for a great event.
Approximately 350 people were in attendance, which is a record high for the parish picnic over the past decade or so. There have even been requests to make this an annual event.
The same weekend of the picnic, the parish hung a prayer chain in the church, comprised of prayers gathered from the school and parish community. The intention of the prayer chain is to symbolize the strength of our prayers when we come together as a parish. Nearly 600 links are included in the chain, and each link contains a prayer or intention from a parishioner of St. Joseph Parish or student at St. Joseph School.
The polka picnic was the first event of the parish’s Welcome Back festivities. Over the next few months, St. Joseph’s is planning an outdoor concert, annual parish yard sale, Eucharistic Miracles display, a fall festival with food trucks, Christmas Fest, and more. For more information, visit www.stjosephmech.org/events-news or St. Joseph Parish on social media.
(Raegan Stence is the Communications Coordinator at St. Joseph Parish in Mechanicsburg.)
By Raegan Stence, Special to The Witness