Chris Darwin wipes down the grill as part of his burger-flipping gig at the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish picnic. (Courtesy St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish)
Chris Darwin wipes down the grill as part of his burger-flipping gig at the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish picnic. (Courtesy St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish)

ALOHA — There were piñatas, festive music and burgers hot off the grill as members of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton came together Sept. 12 for a welcome back celebration. It was their first parishwide gathering since the pandemic began.

“All the good things we prayed for — fun, games, good weather — were fulfilled,” said Father Jeff Meeuwsen, pastor.

Tables were arranged outside the church, and some families brought picnic blankets. About 150 people showed up over the three-hour event to enjoy the alfresco meal and one another’s company.

There was a game involving ping pong balls and cups (no beer, Father Meeuwsen noted with a laugh), plus two piñatas. Father Meeuwsen contributed his baseball bat for the occasion, and a line of children stepped up to take whacks. A musician played tunes on an electronic organ.

The priest said it was a treat to chat with parishioners and feel a sense of unity amid diversity.

A majority of members are from Mexico, but many new parishioners are residents of the recently built South Hillsboro development nearby and hail from across the globe. There are families from Kenya, Nigeria, Eastern Europe, Iraq, parts of Asia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and South America. “These are all our people,” said the priest. “I’ve encouraged parishioners – if you see one another in school or at the grocery store, say hello. They are family.”