A full church and an overflowing parking lot aren’t as common since the COVID-19 pandemic, but St. Athanasius Church’s 11 a.m. Sunday Mass drew a crowd to rival midnight Mass.
Food from more than 10 cultures — including roast pigs made by Filipino parishioners — served after Mass helped draw the larger-than-usual crowd.
The occasion was a festival for parishioners intended to celebrate their varied cultures through food and fellowship. As reporter Kayla Bennett explained, a parishioner from Cameroon in central West Africa served a traditional corn dish alongside dishes prepared by parishioners from Vietnam, Nigeria and the Philippines. The fare also included common German, Irish and Italian dishes as well as a chili cook-off.
Gathered in the parish hall, parishioners learned from one another about their foods and left satisfied — full of new flavors and connections.
Their pastor, Father Minh Vu, who comes from Vietnam, says food has the power to bring people together. The World Taste of St. A serves as exhibit A.
The Archdiocese of Louisville also emphasizes the importance of sharing meals in its Moving Towards Oneness process.
Sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Ministry, the anti-racism process aims to bring together Black and white Catholics. They share food and enter into deep reflection together during the course of several weekly gatherings. The idea is to help people find common ground and begin unraveling prejudices and biases.
Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre, speaking to Moving Towards Oneness participants Aug. 20, noted that working against the sin of racism is hard and slow. And he thanked them for doing it.
He also pointed out that Jesus’ most profound moments of ministry were offered one-on-one.
Personal engagement isn’t as easy as writing a check of support or attending a rally. But it’s the work that can change hearts. And that’s where change has to happen, said Archbishop Fabre.
Parishioners of St. Athanasius and the 15 or so parishes that participated in Moving Towards Oneness have experienced the power of one-on-one engagement.
Where there is understanding, there is less room for prejudice; where there is empathy, there is less room for apathy.
Archbishop Fabre urged Catholics participating in Moving Towards Oneness to turn to authentic prayer as they do the church’s work of healing racial and cultural divisions.
That’s something all Catholics can do, whether you have been actively engaged in this work for years or you are just starting.
St. Athanasius and Moving Towards Oneness participants seem to have a good scratch recipe: Pray, seek shared experiences and act to help break down division.