St. Mary’s hosts first annual meet and greet for new community members

Over the last couple of years the New England community has seen a growth of new people with families moving into the area. With all the new faces in town, trying to reach out and meet everyone and welcome them to the community may be challenging. Sometimes we might have enough time to have a quick introduction but never have a chance to sit down and have a conversation with each other.

Community member gather at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in New England. The gathering was organized to meet and greet any new members to the area. (PHOTO BY RACHEL BOCK | The Herald)
Community member gather at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in New England. The gathering was organized to meet and greet any new members to the area.
(PHOTO BY RACHEL BOCK | The Herald)

By RACHEL BOCK | Herald Reporter

Over the last couple of years the New England community has seen a growth of new people with families moving into the area. With all the new faces in town, trying to reach out and meet everyone and welcome them to the community may be challenging. Sometimes we might have enough time to have a quick introduction but never have a chance to sit down and have a conversation with each other.

One Sunday St. Mary’s Pastor Father Biju Chitteth started brain storming on how to reach out to all the new members of the community. Biju mentioned to the St. Mary’s Stewardship committee an idea he had of hosting a nice sit down meal for everyone to enjoy some food, fun and fellowship.

“My idea was to bring the new families, new people to the town,” Biju said. “You meet many people on the way, but we never get a chance to talk.”

Together, Biju and the Stewardship committee brought the idea to life and on Saturday night August 22, 190 new and existing members of the New England community joined together for the first annual St. Mary’s Meet and Greet.

The original plan was for the event to be held at the Lions Park, with various carnival theme games available for the children to play. Due to the inclement weather on Saturday, the venue needed to be moved in doors and the event was moved to the St. Mary’s Cafeteria.

Brad Rustan, who moved to New England with his family four years ago from Oklahoma, volunteered his cooking talents. With the help of his family he served barbecue ribs, sausage, coleslaw, and beans. The meal was free to the public and paid for by the St. Mary’s Parish.

“We wanted something for people to feel comfortable and if they have kids they don’t have to worry about paying $6 a plate, they can come and enjoy themselves and meet new people,” Stewardship committee member Vivian Hernandez said.

Each new family that arrived was welcomed with a gift bag that was filled with donated items and business cards from some of the New England businesses. Some of the local businesses also donated items to be won as door prizes.

Brad and Cathy Rustan’s son Brady, who is in the Fifth Grade at New England Public School, shared his musical talents and played his guitar and sang some songs for the public. As Brady was playing, some of the children started to gather around him and joined Brady in a sing along.

Biju was very pleased with the way the event turned out. “It was wonderful, we got a real chance to sit and talk,” Biju said.

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