Mass in the park draws hundreds for faith, food, and fun

LAPORTE – On a day in which the disciples were troubled by a violent squall in the June 23 Gospel, the waters of LaPorte’s Clear Lake provided a calm backdrop for Holy Family Parish’s second annual Mass in the Park, celebrated by Bishop Robert J. McClory.
The Mass in the Park was held in Fox Memorial Park, just north of LaPorte’s downtown.
Following the 11 a.m. Mass, nearly 450 attendees enjoyed fellowship, food, music and games.
“It’s beautiful to be on Clear Lake. Last year we had a little tumultuous weather and then this year, the night before, we certainly had some doses of that. The beautiful thing is, as we heard in today’s Gospel passage, that even when the storms are intense, we’re in that little boat of life, Jesus is with us,” said Bishop McClory.
“LaPorte is a beautiful community, with lots of faithful people. There’s been a great transformation in the life of the Catholic community here in LaPorte with the integration of St. Joseph, St. Peter, and Sacred Heart sites into Holy Family Parish,” said the bishop. “There are lots of people coming to our churches, so this is a great opportunity for all the Catholic faithful, and those who aren’t Catholic, to join us here today. It’s great to have the whole Holy Family together.”
Brianna Pierce and her family traveled from St. Mary in Crown Point to join her son, seminarian Ryan, who is spending the summer at Holy Family.
“The Mass was beautiful, and the weather cooperated. The sun came out at perfect times during the Mass, especially during the consecration,” she observed. “I loved seeing the reverence still of everyone kneeling in the wet grass.”
She continued, “I like how people walking along the lake looked over to see what’s going on. I don’t know if anyone snuck in and joined us, but I like to have them see our public worship.”
Some did come across the Mass and picnic, including Ruby Quinonez.
“We were fishing across the street and saw all the activities, music and dancing and came across the street and joined in. It was fun,” Quinonez said.
Violeta Belgara, a Holy Family parishioner described celebrating Mass in the Park as a way of connecting closer to God.
“It was nice to be outdoors listening to the Word of God. You get to be in nature and see God’s creation around you, especially during Mass,” said Belgara. “Being in front of the lake and with today’s scripture about water, really brought it more to life.” 
She noted the festive atmosphere “allowed more time to bond with other cultures and visit with other people we don’t normally see at our normal Mass.”
Father Nate Edquist, pastor of Holy Family Parish was pleased how all the planning paid off.
“I think everything went well and smoothly. It’s great to see so many people come out,” he said..
Father Edquist explained it’s good to host an event like Mass in the Park once a year. “It’s something fun where parishioners can come and stick around after Mass for a few hours. It’s good to do something outside the box and utilize the community’s resources,” he said. “Having this amphitheater on a beautiful lake is a golden opportunity for us, so why not use it.
He continued, “This is a good evangelizing opportunity. We had a lot of people coming through the park, stumbling upon the Mass and the party, the fiesta. It’s a good opportunity for our parishioners to share with them our faith.”
Father Edquist and many others offered their thanks and appreciation for Bishop McClory’s visit and to celebrate Mass and fellowship with them.
“It’s great to have the bishop come out. It shows his solidarity with us, and that he enjoys spending time with his people,” said Father Edquist.
“It was a great day for everyone, and everyone is having fun,” commented Juan Temores as he gazed upon the crowd engaged in the various activities.
“I love it to see the community come together. It seems like a big family reunion,” he said.


Caption: Bishop Robert J. McClory blesses the faithful during the recessional following the Holy Family Parish’s Mass in the Park at Fox Memorial Park in LaPorte on June 23. (Michael Wellinski photo)