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Around Easthampton: Parish festival mixes old traditions with new ones

  • Kasia Pawlus, second from right, of Poland, was in charge of portioning the lazy golumpki in a lunch line at the Our Lady of the Valley Parish Festival in 2011 in Easthampton. Pawlus was visiting her brother, the Rev. Peter Pawlus, an assistant to the pastor at Our Lady of the Valley. Joining her, from left, are Rich Doherty and Robert Fil, both of Easthampton, Louise Olbris of Southampton and Stasia Wilk and George Zoltowski, both of Easthampton. The menu featured pierogi, kapusta, kielbasa and French meat pie. The festival was the first since the three Catholic churches of Easthampton were integrated in July 2010.<br/><br/>GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

    Kasia Pawlus, second from right, of Poland, was in charge of portioning the lazy golumpki in a lunch line at the Our Lady of the Valley Parish Festival in 2011 in Easthampton. Pawlus was visiting her brother, the Rev. Peter Pawlus, an assistant to the pastor at Our Lady of the Valley. Joining her, from left, are Rich Doherty and Robert Fil, both of Easthampton, Louise Olbris of Southampton and Stasia Wilk and George Zoltowski, both of Easthampton. The menu featured pierogi, kapusta, kielbasa and French meat pie. The festival was the first since the three Catholic churches of Easthampton were integrated in July 2010.

    GAZETTE FILE PHOTO Purchase photo reprints »

  • Marlene and Ed Fondakowski of Westfield, center, dance to a polka provided by the Eddie Forman Orchestra during the Our Lady of the Valley Parish Festival in 2011.<br/><br/>GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

    Marlene and Ed Fondakowski of Westfield, center, dance to a polka provided by the Eddie Forman Orchestra during the Our Lady of the Valley Parish Festival in 2011.

    GAZETTE FILE PHOTO Purchase photo reprints »

  • Halia Murphy

    Halia Murphy Purchase photo reprints »

  • Halia Murphy, 10, and her mother, Francine Murphy

    Halia Murphy, 10, and her mother, Francine Murphy Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kasia Pawlus, second from right, of Poland, was in charge of portioning the lazy golumpki in a lunch line at the Our Lady of the Valley Parish Festival in 2011 in Easthampton. Pawlus was visiting her brother, the Rev. Peter Pawlus, an assistant to the pastor at Our Lady of the Valley. Joining her, from left, are Rich Doherty and Robert Fil, both of Easthampton, Louise Olbris of Southampton and Stasia Wilk and George Zoltowski, both of Easthampton. The menu featured pierogi, kapusta, kielbasa and French meat pie. The festival was the first since the three Catholic churches of Easthampton were integrated in July 2010.<br/><br/>GAZETTE FILE PHOTO
  • Marlene and Ed Fondakowski of Westfield, center, dance to a polka provided by the Eddie Forman Orchestra during the Our Lady of the Valley Parish Festival in 2011.<br/><br/>GAZETTE FILE PHOTO
  • Halia Murphy
  • Halia Murphy, 10, and her mother, Francine Murphy

For years, each of the three Catholic churches in the city held a separate parish festival in the summer or fall. But since Notre Dame du Bon Conseil, Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Conception parishes merged to form Our Lady of the Valley Parish in 2010, a single festival has been held annually.

It has become a sign of how the three communities merged into one, said Karen Doherty, an organizer of this year’s festival, set for June 23.

The traditions at the separate festivals came from the heritage of the three former parishes, which were built by early Polish, French and Irish immigrants. The menu at the event this month features a little from each festival.

“Because the three churches merged together, we have pierogi and golumpki, we have the French meat pies and we have the American grill,” Doherty said.

“It’s a nice day and a way for the parish to get the community together,” she said.

This is the third festival Our Lady of the Valley has put on, but this year it is breaking from the tradition of the midsummer or early fall festival. A big reason for the change is the sweltering midsummer heat volunteers have had to endure while cooking in the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish kitchen in preparation for the event, previously held in July.

“But it’s a nice change, it’s new and different,” she said. “And we’re trying to make Our Lady of the Valley traditions.”

An outdoor Mass, open to the public, starts the day at 10:30 a.m. at the festival grounds at 34 Franklin St. The festival is from noon to 6 p.m. Admission and parking is free and visitors can purchase food, beer and wine. There also will be silent auctions, a 50/50 and grand raffle, and children’s activities including games, pony rides and a bounce house. The Memories Band will perform classics from the 1950s and 1960s throughout the festival.

•••

Benefit dinner

The family and friends of a 10-year-old Easthampton girl with a rare medical disorder are hoping a fundraising spaghetti dinner will help her family pay the medical bills as she recovers.

Halia Murphy, a fourth-grader at Maple Street School and daughter of Mark and Francine Murphy, was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome. The disorder occurs when the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system, causing varying degrees of weakness and tingling sensations, according to the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

It usually occurs in the days or weeks after the patient has had a minor infection and is very rare — it affects only about one person in 100,000.

Almost everyone with GBS recovers, but the recovery can take up to six months, said Amy Murphy, Halia’s aunt.

“She’s in rehab in Boston right now. She’s progressing,” Amy Murphy said. “She’s a little spitfire.”

She said Halia first experienced minor symptoms May 22, and then woke up the next morning unable to move. Doctors diagnosed her with the disorder two weeks ago and began treating her with intravenous immunoglobulins, which lessen the immune system’s attack on the nerves.

After a lot of physical therapy, her upper body strength has returned, but she is still working to build strength in her lower body to be able to walk.

While Halia has been in a hospital and rehab facility in Boston, her mother has been staying with her and taking time off from work. The loss of one parent’s income coupled with the medical bills prompted friends and family to organize a spaghetti dinner fundraiser to help ease their financial burden, Murphy said.

The event takes place June 23 from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Pulaski Club at 79 Maple St. It will include food, a cash bar, raffles and a DJ. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children and can be purchased in advance or at the door.

Anyone interested in buying tickets or donating to the raffle can contact Murphy at 230-1278, Michelle Perrier at 695-1129, Cassie Tiffany at 455-9799 or Elaine Lefebvre at 527-8462.

•••

Preservation plan

Residents are invited to learn about and comment on the city’s drafted Community Preservation Plan, which determines how funds raised from taxes through the Community Preservation Act will be spent.

The Community Preservation Plan identifies the needs, resources and possibilities for community preservation projects that either acquire, create, preserve or enhance open space, historic resources, land for recreational use or affordable community housing.

At a public meeting June 20, the Community Preservation Act Committee, which wrote the plan, will hear comments from the public that will be incorporated into the final draft. The document will then guide the city in deciding what to spend the funds on, according to a statement from the Planning Department.

The draft plan is available on the city website, www.easthampton.org. For more information, contact Assistant Planner Jamie Webb at 529-1405.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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