Sunday morning, church bells rang, but the pews were empty. Instead of holding services inside the sanctuary of the churches, Sacred Heart Parish decided to host a family festival in Williams at Redinger Park.
Following a bilingual catholic mass, parishioners from the three churches mingled over music and food.
“This event brought us together as one parish around the table of our Lord,” said Father Victor Gutierrez.
The park was packed. Every one of the 350 chairs were occupied along with many people who brought their own lawn chairs, picnic blankets, sat on tailgates, and others who just opted to stand.
Organizer for the family festival, Jose Beltran from Knights of Columbus (a men’s group within the church) said that they wanted to make the event big in order to make it an annual event.
“You can’t just do a backyard party when you want to do something annually,” said Beltran. “We ended up with a nice, beautiful success.”
Juan Manuel, music director, led the English and Spanish choirs from both Arbuckle and Williams churches.
“The only time we do bilingual mass is confirmations or Easter vigils,” he said. “This is the first celebration that we’ve had as a parish together.”
Parishioners from Gutierrez’s previous church were present, such as Keith and Raquel Henry, of Elk Grove, but also visitors from Truckee and Sacramento were present to show their support as an extended family.
Although they are from a different Parrish, members from Our Lady of Lourdes, in Colusa, were invited to let local residents know that there is a Catholic school for the county.
“The whole intention of this is community,” said Beltran. “It is to get the community together because, of course, the way Sacred Heart Parish is, it’s three churches in three different communities, but it’s all part of one parish. This was a way to get everybody together, get everybody from the parish to mingle, to meet everyone, and socialize.”
Beltran said that the event was possible due to the support from local businesses, including Auto Glass Solutions, La Fortuna Bakery, Ace Hardware, 2nQue Barbecue, among others.
Beltran said that everything from the food to the raffle items were all donated and that the profits will go toward maintaining the three churches.
“Perfect day, a lot of nice people. Couldn’t ask for better,” said Dolores Reckers, a parishioner from the Maxwell church. ■