Photo by Kelly White
Motorcycles were blessed on Sunday at St. Bernadette Catholic Church in Evergreen Park during an outdoor Mass, followed by a family fest.
(slugged, “ada vail”)
Photo by Kelly White
Ada Vail, 7, of Evergreen Park, plays a game of ring toss at St. Bernadette's Family Fest on Sunday afternoon at the church in Evergreen Park.
(slugged, “the sextons”)
Photo by Kelly White
Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton, along with his wife, Karen, and St. Bernadette Pastor Benedykt Pazdan gather on Sunday afternoon at the parish's first-ever Family Fest.
(slugged, “sheila doer”)
Families gathered together this past weekend in Evergreen Park over motorcycles, a Mass and a cow.
You heard that right – a cow.
St. Bernadette Catholic Church, 9343 S Francisco Ave., Evergreen Park, was the site of an outdoor Motorcycle Mass on Sunday afternoon, followed by a family fest and the parish’s first-ever cow pie bingo.
Cow pie bingo consists of a random grid of 750 squares painted on the parking lot (much like football squares) and the squares were numbered between 101 and 850. Attendees were able to purchase tickets for $25 each, picking his or her own number on a first come, first serve basis. Then at the event, there was a very well-fed well live cow named Molly in the parking lot whose only responsibility was to walk around the grid all day until nature finally took its course.
The owner of the square where the largest amount of cow pie landed won $7,000. Any additional money raised will be used for future parish activities.
It took about a half hour for Molly the cow to do her business, and the lucky winner of the $7,000 was Bob Berls, from Oak Lawn. The winning number was 827, a number chosen by Berls to represent his wedding anniversary, which was also coincidentally the date of the event on Saturday.
“This was an idea I had had for a few years, but it took some time to convince the parish council to go along with it,” said the Rev. Benedykt Pazdan, pastor of St. Bernadette. “The cow pie bingo is certainly unique. I don’t think you’ll find any other place on the South Side that does that.”
The cow was provided by Paul Lally, a farm owner and a mason at the parish who did some work for the church last year by installing a handicap ramp and renovating the church bathroom. This isn’t the first time he’s provided the parish with livestock, though. Last December, Lally brought sheep and helped to create a live Nativity scene in front of the church.
Pazdan, a motorcycle enthusiast who has been riding since before he came to the United States from Poland to study in the seminary in 2001, decided to add in the family fest portion of the event this year in addition to the church’s annual Motorcycle Mass in hopes of attracting more people. His decision worked, as nearly 400 people attended the event.
“We heard from some who said they didn’t think the Motorcycle Mass was for them because they weren’t bikers,” Pazdan said. “So the Family Fest grew out of the Motorcycle Mass as a way to make this event more family-oriented and appeal to a wider range of the community.”
After the Mass, the day served as an end of summer celebration with a live band, family barbecue, motorcycle and bike blessing, children's bike parade and decorating contest, and interactive children's activities. Food included hamburgers and hot dogs and was prepared by the church’s parishioners who worked that day as volunteers.
“I often use the word family to decide our parish community because I believe it is a good way to convey to people what a Catholic Parish should be; a place where the members help each other to grow in faith and love and the place where parishioners take care of each other in time of need,” Pazdan said. “You know the saying, ‘the family that prays together, stays together’; but I say, ‘the family that prays and plays together, stays together and grows stronger together’. My hope for this event is that we as St. Bernadette family will enjoy others company, grow closer together, and, in times of need, be there for one another.”
Residents agreed with Pazdan that the church has a family feel to it.
“I grew up here in Evergreen Park and to me, events like this are just like being with your family,” said Sheila Doerr, of Evergreen Park.
“It’s an outing that involves your entire family and is very child focused,” said Lane Vail, also from Evergreen Park.
Also attending were Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton and his wife, Karen, who were having fun mingling among residents.