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Gray Matters: In praise of church suppers

— This cozy yearly event brings people together from the two sister churches, St. Joseph's and Immaculate Heart of Mary, and, judging from the level of conversational noise, people were enjoying themselves. Harvest Dinner coordinator Tammy Rivera said more than 200 people attended this year, and it is always well-received by members of both parishes, as are the “Lenten suppers” that feature soup, salad and bread, and are held every Friday, except Good Friday, during Lent. This is what is so unique about church suppers; you are eating good food, surrounded by friendly people in a welcoming atmosphere. At this particular supper, servers were the teenagers enrolled in the confirmation classes, and the “entertainment,” wonderful piano music, was provided by a young man, Carl Kuno of Liverpool, also in that group. In fact, as Rivera told me, Kuno made such an impression last year that parishioners went out of their way to request his return this year.

You don't have to go far before spotting a sign announcing a church supper somewhere. You can check your church bulletin, this newspaper's “Datebook” page, or the community announcement station on television where such events are listed by date and location. You can also look for placards outside announcing an upcoming event. This is the height of the season, which usually runs all winter, along with all those great holiday cookie and pie bake sales that churches are famous for as well. What an excellent way to draw people out of their homes in the cold months, to gather in a warm dining hall with some old friends, and others who will become new friends, because sitting at large tables you just can't help initiating conversation with those nearby. If you consider the price charged at most of these events, you are getting an excellent meal for your money, a meal usually including salad, sometimes soup, often appetizers like cheese and crackers or carrot and celery sticks, breads and rolls, a good-sized entree, plus your beverage and dessert. Prices might range from $8 to $10 per person, but there is no tax, no tip and almost always lower prices for children. Sometimes children under a certain age, like 5, eat free. While I understand there are groups of men and women out there who selflessly perform this labor of love year after year for their church, most agree they truly enjoy it, not only to raise the needed funds for their house of worship but often for special causes, such as disaster relief or a church mission.

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