By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
St. Joseph Parish in DeWitt is recognizing cultural diversity this school year and offered a taste of Mexican culture for its latest family-oriented event last week. The “Dos de Mayo” event on May 2 celebrated the universal church and gave families and Catholics of all ages a unique fellowship experience.
The celebration began with a bilingual Mass concelebrated by parish pastor Father Paul Connolly and Father Guillermo Trevino, who serves cluster parishes in Davenport and Buffalo. St. Joseph parishioner Joel Reyna, who was born in Mexico, participated in the Mass along with his children and local high school Spanish students. Parts of the Mass were celebrated in Spanish. English-speakers could follow along by reading a flyer with the English translations.
Afterward, nearly 200 guests entered the parish hall, which was decorated with brightly colored “papel picado” banners, red-striped linens and tissue-paper flowers. Guests gazed curiously at a table of Mexican treats; they tried pan de dulce (sweet bread), churros, chile-dusted tamarind candy, peanut candy and other goodies. Many guests said they were unfamiliar with the treats and were eager to give them a try. “I’ve never had churros before,” said Mike Lucas, a Knight of Columbus who helped with preparations. “It’ll be an experiment.”
For the main course, guests were treated to chicken and beef fajitas served with corn tortillas. Garnishes included peppers and onions, pico de gallo, salsa verde and salsa rojo. Reyna’s wife, Lisa, whose mother-in-law taught her to cook Mexican dishes, prepared the food with the help of the Knights. Deputy Grand Knight Don Fuglsang said the KCs are used to cooking fish. “This is new to us,” he said with a smile. After dinner, guests watched a performance by Quad Cities Ballet Folklorica.
Dos de Mayo was one of several family-oriented, diversity-celebrating events that the DeWitt parish’s Faith Formation Committee offered during the 2016-2017 school year. St. Joe’s celebrated Mardi Gras in February. Fr. Connolly said, “It’s a great way to get families involved and exposed to different cultures.”
Pat Sheil, St. Joe’s director of religious education, said DeWitt has become more culturally diverse in the last few years with the addition of a few Chinese and Mexican families. She’s also seen that intergenerational fellowship can help improve church engagement, so the multicultural family events have been a win-win for the parish. She said of Dos de Mayo, “I think it’s the first time we’ve had something like this in DeWitt. It’s super exciting.”
Parishioner Debbie Paysen and her high school-aged son, Spencer, enjoyed the experience, especially trying new foods. “It was such a nice night,” she said.