By Kevin Kelley
Many Byzantine Catholics in America trace their ancestry to eastern European nations such as Slovakia, Hungary and Croatia. But because their church now includes many nationalities, the people of St. Mary Magdalene Byzantine Catholic Church on Sept. 7 will celebrate the heritage of the entire continent at their fourth annual European Festival.
Father Dennis Hrubiak, pastor of St. Mary Magdalene, always wanted to hold a parish festival. The event was launched in 2010 when Fairview Park marked its centennial and the city encouraged community organizations to hold special events to celebrate the city’s birthday.
In addition to celebrating European culture, the festival serves as a fundraiser and way for the parish to reach out to the broader community, said festival coordinator Michael Prochko.
“It’s been a success the first three years,” Prochko told West Life. “Each year we’ve had more entertainment and improved upon the menu.”
The afternoon includes performances by Greek, Italian and Romanian dance groups.
Headliners on the entertainment schedule are the Living Traditions Folk Ensemble, which takes the stage at 2 p.m., and the Northcoast Mix Band, a polka group, which will be playing from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.
The Rev. Larry Ober, S.J., a longtime teacher at St. Ignatius High School who celebrates both the Eastern and Roman rites of the Catholic Mass, will give a talk at 1:30 p.m. on the history of Jesuit service to the Eastern rites of the church. Tours of the St. Mary Magdalene sanctuary will take place at 12:30, 3 and 4 p.m.
A craft fair and beer garden offering a wide variety of bottled beers will also take place on the church grounds. Children can play in a bounce house and on an inflatable slide.
But the quality of the food offered is worth a visit by itself, said Prochko, who volunteered at last year’s European Festival in the kitchen.
For $9, visitors can purchase a pork goulash dinner, consisting of goulash, potato pancake, bread and cucumber salad; or a stuffed cabbage dinner, which includes two stuffed cabbages, mashed potatoes, bread and cucumber salad. Items are also available a la carte, as are hot dogs, sauerkraut balls and hand-made pierogies.
St. Mary Magdalene Byzantine Catholic Church is located at 5390 West 220th St. in Fairview Park.
St. Mary Magdalene Byzantine Catholic Church fourth annual European Festival 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. Sept. 7 Entertainment Schedule Noon Italian Choral Group
1 p.m. Cleveland Saxon Dance Group
1:30 p.m. Speaker- Jesuit Fr. Larry Ober
2 p.m. Living Traditions Folk Ensemble
3:30 p.m. Annunciation Greek Orthodox dancers
4:30 p.m. Wiwaty Polish folk dancers
5:30 p.m. Sezatoarea Romanian dancers
6:30-10:30 p.m. Northcoast Mix Band