Father Tadeusz Gorka, parish priest of the Sacred Heart Parish in Royersford, donned the traditional Polish costume for the Oktoberfest on October 1. (Cara Burrell)

A number of parishes across the Archdiocese kicked off this month with lively Oktoberfest that drew thousands of people around pumpkins, crafts, games, food, and (of course) beer.

St. Anselm Parish in northeast Philadelphia opened its rally on October 2 with a kazoo parade for more than 100 children and a performance by the Irish dance troupe Pride of Erin. An estimated 3,000 attendees enjoyed a wide range of food and drink under “a big tent with room for everyone,” said parishioner Karen Harrison, who also called the numbers for a few. competitive rounds of candy bingo.

Volunteer Patty McCarthy said she handed out each of the 200 pumpkins (150 donated by State Representative Martina White) reserved for the kids to paint. The brightly colored works of art were on display as they dried in the sun under the watchful eye of a statue of the Blessed Mother.

Further afield, the parish of St. Catherine of Siena, in the Torresdale section of the city, organized a festival from October 2 to 3 featuring around 40 artisans and craftsmen, as well as a petting zoo, a moon bounce and outdoor cafe.

At Royersford Sacred Heart Parish, more than 100 participants gathered on October 1 in the decorated gym, some even donning lederhosen – the iconic Bavarian shorts with suspenders – for the occasion.

Pastor of the Sacred Heart, Father Tadeusz Gorka “wore an incredible traditional Polish celebratory outfit” with “peacock feathers,” said Christine Klag, a member of the parish staff, noting that the drink selection included beers. German and Polish.

The Oktoberfest celebrations are over 200 years old, with the first taking place in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of the Crown Prince of Bavaria (later King Ludwig I) to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.

The children took advantage of a petting zoo during an “Oktoberfestival” October 2-3 at St. Catherine’s Parish of Siena in Philadelphia. (Facebook / Parish of St. Catherine of Siena)

While the official two-week Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany has been canceled this year due to COVID, local church versions have provided much-needed fraternity in a safe and manageable setting, organizers said.

The events of St. Catherine of Siena and St. Anselm were held outdoors, and the Sacré-Coeur gymnasium provided plenty of space to “spread out,” Klag said.

Oktoberfests were also a form of evangelism, said the pastor of Saint-Anselme, Father Anthony Rossi.

“I think this is a very good thing for our school community and for our parish… because it (affects) people who are not directly linked to the parish, in particular young families who move into the neighborhood”, said he declared.

“It’s a way to bring families together to eat and have fun,” said Mary Ann Thackrah, director of advancement at St. Anselm School.

After months of COVID-related isolation, these simple joys are more precious than ever, Klag said.

“Everyone really needed to be together; they missed seeing each other, ”she said. “And they were hungry to reconnect.”

Painted pumpkins dry in the sun at an October 2 Oktoberfest hosted by St. Anselm Parish in Philadelphia. (Gina Christian)