The third annual St. Mary’s Egyptian Festival will take place July 28 and 29 at St. Mary and St. Mina Coptic Orthodox Church in North Syracuse. (Submitted photo)
Egypt may not have made it out of the group stage of this year’s World Cup, but there’s more to celebrate than just soccer at the third annual St. Mary’s Egyptian Festival.
The third annual festival, which is hosted by St. Mary and St. Mina Coptic Orthodox Church in North Syracuse, will take place July 28 and 29.
The event, which was held in September and October in previous years, has been moved to summer to avoid the shadow of the State Fair and the dicey weather of mid-fall. With July temperatures hovering in the 80s, Fr. Kyrillos Sadek is hoping the sunny skies will stay clear.
“We’re praying for good weather,” he said.
As in previous years, the festival will feature choir performances, authentic Egyptian cuisine and tours of St. Mary and St. Mina, which is housed in the former Andrews Memorial United Methodist Church.
This year’s festival has added more activities for the family, including stained glass decoration, rock painting and a photo booth with ancient Egyptian-themed costumes and props.
“Every year, we’re adding new food items,” Fr. Kyrillos said.
In addition to festival favorites such as kofta, falafel and baklava, this year’s offerings will include shawarma, or rotisserie-grilled meat that is shaved off and served in sandwiches, wraps or on its own. The festival also will serve loukoumades, or puffs of fried dough soaked in honey.
Well into its third year in North Syracuse, the church is continuing to forge relationships with neighboring houses of worship. St. Mary and St. Mina’s often collaborates with St. Arsema Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Baldwinsville for religious education, vacation Bible school and refugee outreach.
“They send their kids [to] our Sunday school lessons,” Fr. Kyrillos said of their sister Ethiopian church.
St. Mary and St. Mina’s partnered with St. Rose of Lima to collect donations for a Thanksgiving food drive.
“It was a blessed opportunity and the congregation here were very excited about it,” Fr. Kyrillos said.
The church is continuing its own missions as well. A group of doctors in the congregation recently traveled to Zambia to assist with a medical clinic, and a youth group volunteered at the Samaritan Center in Syracuse. St. Mary and St. Mina continues to raise money for those in need in Egypt, where the economy is struggling.
Fr. Kyrillos said St. Mary and St. Mina’s has been making outreach efforts at area colleges. The church has started offering monthly liturgical services at Cornell University, as North Syracuse is the Coptic church closest to Ithaca.
As for what’s next, Fr. Kyrillos said the church is still hoping to invite Tawadros II, Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, to visit North Syracuse.
Ashley M. Casey is a reporter for The Baldwinsville Messenger and The Eagle Star-Review. She graduated from Le Moyne College in 2012 and previously worked for the Scotsman Press.