Ministering to the soul and body
The Holy Ghost Church in South Bethlehem has a heritage of ministering to both the spiritual and the physical needs of its parishioners. So the second annual polka Mass and halupki (stuffed cabbage) dinner this fall provided a perfect example of the blending of those two ministries.
The Mass and dinner also reflected the cultural mix of the local Roman Catholic church, which was founded in 1871 as a German-ethnic parish. In 1888, due to increased membership, a new church was built at its present location on Carlton Avenue.
Today, Holy Ghost is a sister parish with Incarnation of Our Lord, which was founded in 2008 by the Allentown Diocese as a merger of former Slovak, Hungarian, Windish, Polish and Italian parishes. Both parishes share the same administrator, liturgical schedule, common prayer, and a mission to serve South Bethlehem.
That’s where the cultural mix, polkas and halupkies come in. The polka Mass was a joyous occasion that featured music by Changing Times, a quartet of musicians playing accordion, drums, saxophone and guitar. This band plays the last night at Musikfest under the polka tent each year.
The colorfully costumed Tatra Slovak Group served as choir, singing not only parts of the Mass, but also additional songs.
At the sign of peace, they sang:
“So let the sun shine in,
Shake hands with your neighbor,
And happiness will never leave your heart.
The halupki dinner after Mass was a fundraising hit, with 184 tickets sold at $10 each, but long-time volunteer Pat Krycia said the dinner was about more than raising money.
“It was about community,” she said.
Holy Ghost Church abounds with community, with 20 volunteer committees ranging from liturgy to outreach to social. In its mission to provide for physical needs, Holy Ghost holds regular food pantries to distribute staple items to those in need.
Social committees make noodles twice a month, and pierogies several times a year.
Anyone can join in and learn how to make both.