St. Stephen's holds its annual outdoor Mass and parish picnic Sept. 11

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:17

WARWICK — The second Sunday in September, the usual day set aside for St. Stephen’s annual outdoor Mass and parish picnic, fell this year, on the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. Since this was a solemn occasion, Father Michael McLoughlin, pastor of the Church of St. Stephen, the First Martyr, wondered if it was appropriate to host a Parish picnic. He contacted each of the members of the parish who had lost a loved one on that tragic day and they all urged him to proceed as scheduled. That day, however, the homily and the music during the traditional outdoor Mass, paid special tribute to the anniversary including special prayers for all those who lost their lives on 9-11, mentioning victims who were members of the parish by name. The entrance hymn was, “God Bless America,” and during the service the choir and congregation sang the “Prayer of St. Francis,” “Be not Afraid,” and “America the Beautiful.” Local guitarist Kyle Hancharick sang, “There is Hope,” a meaningful song for the occasion written by a friend, Dave Pettigrew. In recent years the annual event has been held on the picturesque church grounds rather than its former site at the Town Park. The advantage was to have indoor facilities available so that the popular family event would not have to be canceled because of weather. Tom Fitzgerald served again as Annual Parish Picnic Chairman and members of the Knights of Columbus cooked and served traditional barbecue dishes.