Even though it didn’t honor any one person, a birthday event that took place May 22-23 at St. John Vianney Parish gave participants multiple reasons to celebrate.
Festive gatherings after the parish’s three weekend Masses took place in conjunction with Pentecost Sunday, honoring the birth of the Catholic Church when the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus’ apostles as depicted in the second chapter of Acts of the Apostles.
The celebrations took place in O’Malley Hall at St. Mary Church in Bath, after the 4 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 a.m. Sunday Masses; and in McGill Hall at Hammondsport’s St. Gabriel Church following the 8 a.m. Sunday liturgy. Both church halls were adorned with balloons, and cakes were decorated with doves and tongues of fire in observance of Pentecost. Father James Jaeger, pastor, and Deacon Thomas Jack, parish deacon, did the honor of cutting cake. Each person in attendance received a dove lapel pin, candies and information about the Station of the Cross. Door prizes of religious books, DVDs and music CDs were given away as well.
In addition, the get-togethers served to provide fellowship for members of the northern Steuben County parish, who had been largely separated for more than a year due to health concerns and restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic. All St. John Vianney parishioners had been invited to the birthday celebration by Father Jaeger, whose efforts included sending letters to people who were still staying home from church. Father Jaeger encouraged them not only to attend the Pentecost event but also to return to Mass on a regular basis, noting in his letter the steadily decreasing health risk for gathering at churches based on rising COVID-19 vaccination rates in New York state.