RUMSON – Parishioners of Holy Cross Parish will be wearin’ the green on Saturday as the historic Catholic church on Ward Avenue celebrates its fourth annual Gaelic Mass and Irish Festival to which all are welcome.
The day will begin with a gathering of the parish family and friends on the Sea Bright side of the Rumson-Sea Bright bridge at 8 a.m. At 8:15 a.m., church pastor Rev. Michael Manning will lead a parade over the bridge and to the church in commemoration of St. Patrick’s having driven the snakes out of Ireland.
Then, members of the parish will participate in a Gaelic Mass before heading off to the school gymatorium for an Irish breakfast followed by three hours of live Irish music, step-dancing and Irish-themed games, crafts and fun.
The idea for the celebration began with parishioner Pete Hogan and was quickly embraced by the church community. “We wanted to do something that was different from the normal St. Patrick’s Day celebrations,” said parish assistant Eileen George. “We thought, what better way than to have a Mass in Gaelic and an Irish Breakfast? It has grown from that each year.”
For the first couple of years, the Rev. Andrew O’Connor of Holy Family Church in the Bronx came to conduct the Mass in Gaelic.
But now, help is much closer at hand. Rev. Harry Cullen from St. Jerome’s Parish in West Long Branch is following in the Bronx priest’s footsteps. “He’s from Ireland and he speaks Gaelic,” said George.
Non-Gaelic speakers will be able to follow the Mass in English in translation.
Following the service, all will repair to the gymatorium to enjoy eggs, bangers and mash, sausages, soda, brown breads, scones, coffee and tea.
“Molly Maguire’s Blackpoint Inn and Atlantic Bagel Shop are providing some of the food for the brunch,” noted George.
Cooking, serving and cleanup will be handled by Holy Cross students, parents and parish members. “It’s a real parish event,” said George, who added that students preparing for their Confirmations are donating their time as part of the community service component of their preparation.
The morning will feature live Irish music by the band, Trinity, a solo performance by singer-guitarist David McCarthy, Irish step dancing, folklore telling, poetry readings of Yeats, and guest speakers of Irish descent.
A magician, Irish themed face painting and a balloon artist will help the children celebrate St. Patrick’s spirit with creations of Celtic Crosses, shillelaghs, shamrocks, and flags.
In its first year, more than 400 people came to Holy Cross to enjoy the event.
As of Wednesday, George estimated, the parish had sold approximately 150 to 175 tickets in advance, and tickets will be available at the door on Saturday and are sure to be in demand. “That’s a real selling point,” said George. “We’re expecting a pretty good crowd.”
The parade and Mass are free of charge and the public is welcome. Tickets for the brunch are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $10 for children, with a family maximum of $70.
For more information or to order tickets in advance, please call Holy Cross Church at 732-842-0348 ext. 2 for the HC parish center, then ext.1 for Eileen George or email firstname.lastname@example.org .