Parishes celebrate saints; dine with ‘Chef’ Shemek

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Father Shemek helps prepare a Polish treat.

Father Shemek helps prepare a Polish treat.

By Lisa M. Smaldone

St. Christopher and St. Theresa parishioners in Tiverton united in celebration on Saturday, April 26, at St. Christopher Church for Mass in honor of our newly canonized saints, Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II.

Reverend Przemyslaw “Shemek” Lepak and Deacon Timothy Flanigan celebrated Mass among a full congregation of parishioners. There, too, were loyal friends of Fr. Shemek from past parishes including St. Brendan Parish of Riverside, and St. Kevin Parish of Warwick.

The beautiful Mass concluded with a prayerful Litany of the Saints and the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

Parishioners reflected about both Popes’ earthly lives, concluding that both Saints John XXIII and John Paul II lead lives of holiness, greatly enriching our spiritual growth and personal lives by leading us in our call to be faithful servants to God and one another.  It is through their Holy example that we too are called to model their example, also serving God and one another, as they did within their lives despite obstacles and challenges.

A lovely reception of Polish cuisine followed the Mass, prepared specially by Fr. “Chef” Shemek, in conjunction with friend, and talented cook, Renata Augustyn, along with the assistance of volunteer parishioners.  Fr. Shemek treated everyone to what was traditionally known as Polish “peasant” food, which is enjoyed as tasty Polish “comfort” food by many at present.  Polish cuisine served included authentic specialties such as placki ziemniaczane (potato pancakes), bigos (hunter’s stew), pierogis  (tasty potatoes encased in dough), kielbasa Duszona (Polish sausage), salatka warzywna (a traditional Polish vegetable salad), and pastries, including apple tarts and paczki (Polish donuts).

A special touch in the dinner preparation was a visit by Fr. Shemek’s friend Renata, who shared her great cooking talent by preparing and teaching volunteer parishioners how to make delicious Pierogis and traditional Polish apple tarts.  Much time was taken in sharing her love of her Polish culture and cooking, which left a lasting impression and appreciation by all who participated.

Special thanks to the Eagle Scouts who assisted with the table setting, and to the Youth Group who were assisted with food preparation and serving. In addition, the Youth Group concluded the evening in leading a “balloon ceremony” in honor of our canonized saints.  The group distributed balloons and asked all to attach personal prayers to the balloons which were released outdoors, symbolizing the prayers rising to heaven.

As we go forward in our own personal lives, let us go forward in utilizing the examples of our newly Canonized saints in following their example and turning to them in our needs.

In the words of Saint Pope John II, “I have looked for you and now you come to me and I thank you….”

And in the words of Saint Pope John XXIII, “Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself with what is still possible for you to do …”

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