May 21, 2012 10:16:32 AM
Each spring at Pentecost, Annunciation Catholic Church holds an international food festival. Pentecost (Greek for "fiftieth" day) is the Christian observance of the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus' disciples 50 days after his death. It is sometimes called the birthday of the church.
On the Friday before the festival, a small army of volunteers begins setting up tents in the open field behind the church. A tent for each ethnicity. Among those represented are Irish, Polish, German, American, African American, Asian, Latino and Italian.
Late Sunday afternoon, church members from these different groups gather to socialize and share their native dishes. A disc jockey plays oldies from the 60's and 70's; kids dye their hair at a kids tent; there is the requisite raffle for a large-screen TV and, at one point, Mardi Gras beads are thrown. Church members and stragglers from the neighborhood show up. It's like a large family picnic.
The diversity of people and array of food is surprising. The event offers a pleasant reminder that we are a conglomeration of people from many lands, a colorful tapestry. That diversity is the bedrock upon which this nation was built.
In a time where too frequent reports of racial animus dominate the news, the Catholics' food fest offers an example of how pleasant, interesting and harmonious a gathering of diverse people can be.
We wish there were more events like it.