McHenry Fiesta Begins with First Bilingual Mass, ‘Christens’ Pavilion
By Pat Szpekowski, Observer Correspondent
August 16, 2018
MCHENRY—The music was spirited, the air was filled with enticing aromas, and a brand new outdoor shelter stood ready to shield parishioners from the hot summer sun. 
It was a day of many significant firsts as McHenry’s Church of Holy Apostles Parish celebrated its annual Summer Fiesta on its grounds, Aug. 12.
The day’s activities were filled with familiar activities, but with changes. 
More than 1,000 parishioners filled the church for the first bilingual Sunday Mass at 10 a.m. 
The normally English Mass was combined with the regular Spanish Mass usually held at noon. 
The Hispanic choir was accompanied by guitars and drums and joined by a pianist and soloist who all sang in English and Spanish for the occasion.
Father Paul White, pastor, and Father Johnson Lopez, parochial vicar, spoke about the joy at this milestone Mass. 
“This is the first time our two communities are celebrating Mass together on a Sunday,” Father White said. “As a family, this is who we are, what we are. We are fed by the Bread of Life and have accomplished many great things. You should be very proud as you are all owners, not renters, of our parish.”
After Mass, the faithful went outside to the grounds to attend the Summer Fiesta, which was previously a Hispanic community event. 
“This is the first year we are all together as one parish family,” said Father Lopez. “It truly represents who we are.”
For this first combined Summer Fiesta, which the parish plans to continue for years to come, adults and children could opt to eat traditional fare, have their faces painted, listen to music, or jump in a bouncy house. 
The air was filled with fresh food expertly prepared in different tents. 
Besides the usual hamburgers, pizza, ice cream, and fresh roasted corn, men and women in aprons  deftly prepared nachos and tacos. 
Many enjoyed other Hispanic specialties like pambazo, empanadas, and chicharron, after watching the food being traditionally prepared with precision and laughter.
Another highlight of the day was the first use of the brand new outdoor pavilion, which comfortably accommodates 200 people. It was a place for rest, fellowship, and sitting down with new friends. 
The large pavilion was built entirely by parish volunteers who toiled together for two months. There were carpenters, laborers, painters, and more, all with tasks like digging holes, pouring concrete and putting up steel beams. 
“Together, whether we are Spanish or English, we worked together and now have a building to use for years to come,” Father White said. 
Well-deserved praise went to the volunteers but many, including parishioner and volunteer Rich West, pointed to fellow parishioner Jose Aguilar for his leadership and work on the project. 
“I want to be like him,” West said. 
After a laugh together, Aguilar, a landscaper, told of his involvement with the project. 
“I guess I did help in breaking the ground, working with the concrete, grading it and laying the sod down,” he said. “I was the bridge working with many people to get this done.” 
He remembered the final phase of the project being complete on July 4 in 95 degree heat. 
“Was it hot!” he said with a smile. “But we got it done so it could be ready for today.”
Gabriela Zepeda-Solis, who is involved in a number of ministries at the parish, was happy that the Summer Fiesta was a success. 
“My entire family of three generations is working here today,” she said. “I am so grateful for Father Paul (White). I’m a cradle Catholic, but I have never seen someone with so much passion to bring our two communities together. We feel so comfortable. We all speak the same language here, the language of love.”
The day’s events served as a fundraiser to help the parish, which was built in 1989, maintain facilities that need a little attention. 
Raffle tickets were sold for a variety of gift baskets and cash, plus additional raffles to win sports tickets and golf foursomes. To get the excitement going organizers announced that Carol Broadus won the first cash raffle of the day.
“Wow,” she said, “this is fun. What a day!”