Sunset Fest ~ 2007

It's been going on all year and it's probably still not over.  The latest event in celebration of the 150-year history of the St. Victoria Catholic Church occurred Saturday evening, August 18th, as part of the parish's Tenth Annual Sunset Fest.

Honored guest and presider Archbishop Harry Flynn, head of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul, was 15 minutes late for the 5:00 p.m. Mass that evening probably due, said Father Bob White, to heavy rain and electrical outages including down traffic lights between Hwy 494 and Victoria.

But nobody complained because the Chmielewski Funtime Variety Show Band filled the space and not only lifted the rafters but also the spirits of nearly 1,000 people who crowded into church that evening. 

And then the Archbishop arrived!  For nine years the St. Victoria Parish lucked out with blue sky above an outdoor Sunset Fest held across the street at Lions Park.  Planners for the Tenth Annual, however, decided 24 hours in advance of the Fest to move it indoors.

Everybody and everything fit into the large new church, including polka bands, dance floor, hootenanny band, concessions, and games.

Zooming into the crowd, I can see Allan, my mom and dad, my sister Nancy and her husband Steve. 

The first Mass and Dedication Ceremony held at the new St. Victoria Catholic Church was on Sunday, May 8th, 2005, and was also presided over by Archbishop Harry Flynn.  But the first Mass held in the very first St. Victoria Catholic Church occurred in 1857 and that is the cause celebre at this time.

In his homily at the Sunset Fest, the Archbishop said, "We are on a journey of trying to live the whole Gospel.  For 150 years that Gospel has been preached at St. Victoria.  For 150 years this parish has been nourished by the Gospel.  For 150 years this parish has received the unspeakable gift of the Eucharist.  For 150 years the people have had their sins forgiven when they've failed to live that Gospel."

During the Prayers of the Faithful, the Archbishop asked God to "listen to the prayers of your holy people here at St. Victoria.  Relieve the anxiety they may hold this evening."

When some of the little one wailed, as is their wont, the Archbishop said, "I'm glad to hear a child's voice.  A child's voice will teach you more about God than anything you could ever say.  You wonderful parents, it's not easy to get them all ready for Mass.  I don't know how you do it.  I have a hard time getting myself ready."  Then he added, "Thank you for passing on the faith."

Always speaking extemporaneously, without notes in any case, as well as calmly and directly, the Archbishop also hit a somber note of reality.  "Why is the Church scorned?" he asked.  "It is scorned because it speaks on behalf of the unborn, the poor, the immigrant."

The St. Victoria Choir under the direction of Jamie Moore (this is just the men's section) was also featured that evening along with the Chmielewski's.

Said the Archbishop, "There are those who will dispossess us and look at us with scorn and in the most negative fashion.  None of it is easy."

"And we must preach the whole Gospel.  When we preach the whole Gospel, there will be people who say, 'Fool!  You need to be gotten rid of.'"

Thank you, Archbishop Harry Flynn, for visiting St. Victoria.

"His favorite song of all is the song of the redeemed, When lost sinners now made clean lift their voices loud and strong, When those purchased by His blood lift to Him a song of love, There's nothing more He'd rather hear, nor so pleasing to His ear as His favorite song of all."

After Mass the Hootenanny Band comprised of St. Victoria parishioners entertained at the door in a manner which both welcomed those still entering and bid farewell to those who were leaving for other  engagements.  These Hootenannies include the four Hooties on the left -- Tim Pfau, Chuck Schmidt, Chuck Freiburg, Cowboy Tom Stump -- and several Nannies on the right -- Cassie, Bernie, Ali, Val, and Meg, to name many of them.

Die Wulpertinger Band tugged at dancing hearts and accommodated dancing feet ...

including those of the popular Father Bob White, pastor at St. Victoria since 1996.  Here he dances with parishioner Rose Scholl who celebrated her 96th birthday this past March, 2007.  As Archbishop Harry Flynn said during his homily that evening, "You have been blessed.  Father White is a marvelous pastor."  The Archbishop's concluding words to the people of St. Victoria:  "May God bless you for another 150 years."

Die Wulpertingers continued to entertain into the late hours as parishioners served hamburgers, brats, hotdogs, trimmings and salads.  Raffle prizes were raffled and winners announced.  The Holy to Hootenanny evening was a grand success.

Love, Sue