Palm Sunday 2015
On Sunday, March 29th, we attended the annual St. Vitus Palm Sunday Benefit Dinner in which the proceeds from the meal would go toward the food bank activity of St. Edward High School Vincent de Paul Youth and for hot meals served via St. Pashal Baylon Helping Hands Ministry. As its website states, "St. Vitus has existed in Cleveland, Ohio since 1893 and is well known for its deep roots in the Slovenian culture, which began with immigrants to the area in the early 1800's." All told about 700 families now attend St. Vitus Church.
We discussed immigration with its pastor, Reverend Joseph P. Boznar who told us that most of the Slovenian families who now attend St. Vitus immigrated from Europe perhaps three generations ago. Rev. Boznar told us that the number of people now immigrating to the United States from Slovenia has declined in recent years due to a strong economy under the European Union. Thus, there is not as much need for people to immigrate here to find work. Nevertheless, he believed that there are professionals in Europe who would love to come here to live and to work by choice, instead of need.
So we went in and had the dinner that we reserved for ourselves several weeks ago with Ms. Marge Kuhar, the parish secretary who was hard at work in the kitchen. She stopped though to tell us hello and that she was very glad that we were there.
We shared a table with a very nice elderly woman named Ivanka who had immigrated to the United States from Slovenia about 58 years ago. She recalled taking a plane from Europe to New York and then taking a train from New York to Cleveland where she settled with her family and worked as a butcheress for many years before she retired; she told us that she had lived in one house for 45 years!
Sitting with us was Kathy who is from Lorain and comes to St. Vitus every Easter because there is no longer a Slovenian church in Lorain but she wants to maintain her cultural identity. In fact at our table there were several people who drove a few miles to be here from such places as Willoughby, Willowick, Wickliffe, and Euclid.
We talked to a man named John who told us that people of Slovenian heritage come from all over to attend a Slovenian church. John, himself, is 76 and has been attending St. Vitus Church consistently for 74 years and has only missed one Easter service. Another longtime attendee was Joseph who grew up in this very area and went to school here at St. Vitus. He now lives in the St. Vitus Village apartments and told us that several vacancies might be used for housing during the upcoming RNC.
Other people that we talked to at this gathering included Ms. Agnes Koporc who writes for the "Slovenian Times" and told us that her niece used to belong to the College Club of Cleveland where Ms. Margaret W. Wong is a member. We got to say hello to Mr. Tony Petkovsek, known for his excellent long running Slovenian Polka radio show, who was there too.
Just before we left, we visited with Sister Mary Avsec, a pastoral minister from Notre Dame College, who has know Ms. Wong a long time and respects the work that she does. Sister Mary was busy traveling from table to table greeting old friends but still paused long enough for us to take a photo of her standing with two clowns who were there to entertain the many families who came here to have dinner after the church service.