Polish picnic

Bernice Davia, of Auburn, dances during the annual Polish Picnic at St. Hyacinth Church in Auburn in 2014.

Auburn is rich in ethnic religious groups. Historically, those ethnic groups were pretty much identified with specific parish churches: Holy Family Church for the Irish, St. Alphonsus Church for the Germans, St. Mary’s Church for the Irish and others, St. Aloysius Church for the Irish, St. Hyacinth Church for the Polish, St. Francis of Assisi Church for the Italians, SS. Peter & Paul Church for the Ukrainians, St. Nicholas Church for Orthodox Christians of Eastern Europe, etc.

Today, many of these churches retain vestiges of their ethnic origins, but with intermarriage and demographic changes, these churches now reflect the diverse American culture. That having been said, three churches in Auburn annually highlight their ethnic origin.

SS. Peter & Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church on Washington Street held its annual Ukrainian Heritage Festival on Sunday, June 9, on the parish grounds. St. Hyacinth Church on Pulaski Street is holding its annual Polish Picnic this Sunday, July 14, on the parish grounds. And St. Francis of Assisi Church on Clark Street will holds its annual Italian Festival on Saturday, Aug. 17, at the Owasco town pavilion. At each of these festivals, delicious homemade foods associated with their heritage will be featured, along with other activities for children and adults.

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The Polish Picnic of St. Hyacinth Church takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today on the church grounds at 63 Pulaski St. This Polish festival will feature golabki (pigs in a blanket), pierogi, kielbasa, kapusta, sausage, hot dogs, hamburgers, french fries, pizza fritta, beer and soft drinks, children's games, the Cayuga County Sheriff's Offices' Operation Safe Child ID program, gift baskets, a 50/50 and more. Free entertainment is provided by Fritz’s Polka Band — listen, sit, dance!

What’s wonderful about these ethnic parish festivals is that folks from the other parishes volunteer for each other’s festivals. So at any one of these three festivals, you will see parishioners from St. Hyacinth, St. Francis, SS. Peter & Paul, St. Mary’s and other friends all working together to make each other’s festival a huge success. “Encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”  — 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Everyone is invited to come to the Polish Picnic today from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 63 Pulaski St. Hope to see you there!

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The Rev. Frank E. Lioi is pastor of St. Mary’s Church and SS. Mary & Martha Parish (St. Francis Church and St. Hyacinth Church) in Auburn, and dean of the East Region (Cayuga and Tompkins counties) of the Diocese of Rochester. He can be reached at flioi@dor.org.