Through the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, many parishes canceled annual events, such as fish fries during Lent and rummage sales and bake sales over the summer. As activities cautiously begin to resume, Most Precious Blood Parish of Fort Wayne created an innovative gathering to bring everyone back to together.
On Aug. 14, the parish offered its first fish dinner, praise and worship evening. Father Andrew Curry, parish administrator, and long-time parishioner and parish council participant Tim Allen had brainstormed to create an event that would allow the parish community to come back and worship together.
On the blacktop of the church and school parking lot, many parishioners gathered safely in lawn chairs and interacted while social distancing and wearing masks. The goal of the event was to reach inside and outside the parish to bring the whole community together. “We want our parishioners to have a time to get together, but at the same time we wanted to figure out a way to reach out to the community within this area. Anybody was welcome.”
It was also well-timed in terms of schools coming back to in-person classes. Parents and students were able to sit near each other and catch up on long-awaited conversations.
It was the first time the parish had put on anything like this, so the evening was a step outside the box for everyone involved. Monica Aquila, pastoral associate, also helped to put on the event. She thought doing something like this was important, considering the pandemic. “I think we wanted to be sure to be cautious in everything we did because we didn’t want to risk anyone getting sick, but I think these are the type of events that help us to maintain our community,” she said. Father Curry added that the event provided fellowship, which had not been as upbeat since the pandemic hit.
The first part of the evening began at 4:30 p.m. with a fish dinner that Allen, also the owner of Big Eyed Fish, and his business partner Tony Bryant, supplied with their restaurant’s new food truck. In providing the dinner, Allen expressed his passion in bringing everyone back together for worship in a safe way. “We want people to feel safe coming back into the church, and we thought this would be a great opportunity to have some food, music and a worship night.” It was important for him to see everyone together again talking and seeing friends and family. Allen and Bryant gave all proceeds to the church as a donation.
Anne Clark attended the event out of support for her parish, saying, “We haven’t had too many community functions lately, so it’s nice to be able to come out and see everybody.” She attends most events of the parish, she said, but this one was especially exciting for her because it was something new. Clark went on to say this new type of gathering was so important to get the community back together. “People are aching to see their faith community. They miss it a lot. So, this is important, and I know everyone here is grateful to those who helped to put this on.”
The second part of the evening started at 7:30 p.m., a concert led by Father Curry on guitar. The stage was donated by the University of Saint Francis in support of the gathering. Father Curry said “We wanted to have everyone together to bring praise to Jesus because many members have not felt comfortable physically coming into the church for worship. We’ve been televising Mass on our Facebook page, but being able to have everyone together in a safe way brings a more cohesive feeling.”
Handouts were provided so attendees could sing along. They sang songs such as “Oh Lord I Need you” and “Because He Lives.” Everyone stood up to sing and give praise to Jesus. Even people who live across the streets of the parish could be seen standing in their front yards enjoying the concert.
Father Curry said it’s hoped they can put on more Friday night parish events to continue bringing the faith community together. Follow the parish on Facebook for updates on when and where they will be.
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