Parishes not giving up on giving
BY ROBIN MULL
DIRECTOR OF MARKETING
Father John A. Moineau, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, Irwin, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, North Huntingdon, has kept the momentum of his faith community going, energizing and engaging parishioners with virtual Masses and video messages.
While separated from his parishioners by the coronavirus, Father Moineau has not given up on stewardship, even though his parishes have not been able to hold some of their largest fundraisers.
Fish fries across Western Pennsylvania, including the one at Immaculate Conception, were discontinued early in Lent. Now the start of the highly anticipated Irwin Burger Bash season is on hold. The event dates have not been set as the diocese continues to work with state and regional health care officials in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak to determine how to restart parish social events like the Burger Bash and other activities that attract large numbers of people.
For the past 13 years at Immaculate Conception Parish, from April through November, volunteers have organized the famous Burger Bash held in the parking lot of Immaculate Conception Parish, Oak Street and Second Avenue. The smell of grilled onions and sizzling burgers fills the air of downtown Irwin.
“The best thing about the Burger Bash is just being a part of it,” Father Moineau said. “When we start cooking the burgers early in the morning at 9 a.m., I’m usually in confession, and I can begin to smell the onions. And I think that is true to all of Irwin. People smell the burgers and onions before they even remember it’s a Burger Bash.”
For weeks, he and parishioners have used electronic communication to encourage giving that supports the Church’s missions and ministries, including faith formation programs, and this year includes more virtual connectivity efforts. But he worries about the personal interaction that’s also needed to spread the word of God.
Father Moineau says the Burger Bash doubles as a fundraiser and a community evangelization outreach.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to serve the (Irwin) community and see the community, and for the community to see us. I think that we really made our mark when we started the Burger Bash, because people realized we were there and we were alive and participating in the community,” he said.
“The volunteers are incredible,” Father Moineau said. “They start early in the morning setting up tents and getting the burgers out. The ladies are over in the kitchen separating onions, taking them apart so they are ready to be grilled. The people that never get enough credit are those who clean up. They’re the ones who are really behind the scenes.”
This year’s success may come in a new format as a drive-thru option is being considered.
“Even before COVID-19, we started playing with the idea of a drive-thru. That’s going to be a key part of the Burger Bash this year,” Father Moineau said.
He will be posting a highlight video on his Operation Safe Mode YouTube series, Immaculate Conception Parish’s social media pages and website once the plans for this year are finalized.
“It’s the best burger you can buy,” he said. “It’s the special onions that make our burgers the best.”
The recipe is safe in a vault, but it may include a dash of holy water, Father Moineau joked.
Father Moineau and John DePaulo tend to the grill during a 2019 Burger Bash.
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