For nearly 50 years, an annual ladies’ event in Cohocton has seen several family reunions take place at once.
St. Pius V Parish hosted its Mother and Daughter Banquet on May 10 at the Sturmer Hall parish center. This year 63 people participated, according to Kaye Wise, president of St. Pius V’s Altar and Rosary Society, which sponsored the event.
The banquet extends back to 1958 and has always been held around Mother’s Day, with the exception of a couple of years when it did not take place. Wise said she has attended every Mother and Daughter Banquet, further noting, “I’ve got two daughters, and they’ve gone since we carried them there.”
Donna Fox, who is Wise’s niece, now carries her own daughters to the gatherings: This year she brought Molly, 4, and Stephanie, 9 months. Fox also said that all three of her sisters faithfully attend the Mother and Daughter Banquet, and she has gotten her mother-in-law involved as well. She, personally, has been a participant “probably since I was born,” only missing once when it was held on a Saturday and she had a prom.
“About the only thing that keeps us away is either having babies or proms,” Fox remarked. “It’s something we look forward to. If we don’t get to see our mothers on Mother’s Day, we get to see them then.”
A major highlight of the banquet is the Outstanding Woman of the Year Award. This year’s honor went to Anita Eck, a musician in the parish. Wise noted that her late mother, Irene Schneider, was the first Woman of the Year in 1958. Wise has also received this award, as have her daughters, Kathleen Azzi and Margie Adams, as well as Fox’s mother, Vivian Schneider.
“One year we honored the Blessed Mother (as Woman of the Year),” Wise said.
Also included in the banquet is the coronation of the Blessed Mother, which is traditionally performed by a young girl while accompanied by other youths. That role was filled on May 10 by Anna Bruner, a recent first Communicant. In addition, awards were given for the youngest and oldest mothers to attend, as well as for the person who traveled the farthest (a Pittsburgh resident claimed that category). Live entertainment was also provided; Ashley Riekofski, a young vocalist, impressed the banquet-goers. Fox recalled that magicians and clowns have performed at past Mother and Daughter Banquets.
Even guys get to participate — that is, provided they’re willing to work. St. Pius V’s men and boys traditionally serve dinner, which on May 10 consisted of chicken and biscuits. The meal was preceded by a blessing from Father Gennaro Ventura, a retired diocesan priest who serves St. Pius V and the other three churches in the Holy Family Catholic Community.
Wise said that the banquet’s success can be measured in the way it bridges the generations — not only for a night of social pleasure, but also in terms of evangelization.
“It’s a chance to bring young families into the church, young mothers — we had several this year who were there for the first time,” Wise said. “Hopefully, then, these girls will get involved in the church.”