BAY HEAD — The Church of the Sacred Heart in Bay Head will host its first social event since the start of the pandemic — a March 11 dinner in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.
“When we first started the St. Patrick’s Day dinner and dance, it was a social to bring our parishioners and surrounding communities together for an evening of fun,” said John Paglione, director of Liturgy, Ministries and Catechesis for the linked parishes of Sacred Heart in Bay Head and St. Pio in Lavallette.
“Over the years, and with the support of parishioners and our local establishments who we are always grateful for, provided donations of gifts, gift cards etc. which provided another element to the festivities with a raffle.”
Before the pandemic, Sacred Heart Church would host regular social events to bring people together from both inside and outside the church. One of their most popular annual socials was St. Patrick’s Day themed, which is why the church decided it was the perfect event to bring back first. While the traditional social gatherings included raffles and door prizes, the comeback will be smaller and offer different types of entertainment.
The St. Patrick’s Day Social will bring in the traditional Irish fair of corned beef and cabbage along with ham, soda bread and desserts, all catered through Catered by Colonial Market and Soda Bread from Mueller’s Bakery. The event will also bring in entertainment for Irish dancers from Devrin Academy of Irish Dance and music, along with a sing-a-long with Sean Hennessy.
According to his biography, Mr. Hennessy is a self-taught musician and has performed as a solo artist, band member and band leader of Blackwater. Irish music has always been at the center of his creative passion since he split his childhood between New Jersey and his mother’s hometown of Dungarvan, in County Waterford, Ireland.
In 2013, he was awarded the Bliain na Cruinne Medal by the North American Province for his efforts on behalf of Comhaltas and traditional Irish music, dance and language. Mr. Hennessy currently lives in Middletown.
“[Mr. Hennesy] gave me lyrics to the songs he was going to perform so I could put them up on the screen,” said Mr. Paglione. “This way attendees can participate in a karaoke style and enjoy the music in a different way.”
The dinner is $25 a person and it is a BYOB affair but will offer a special Irish Coffee bar. Checks can be made payable to Sacred Heart and mailed to: Sacred Heart, Att: Pags, 751 Main Avenue, Bay Head NJ 08742. According to Mr. Paglione, the church is hoping for around 180 guests to attend.
“This year our theme is ‘reconnect,” said Mr. Paglione. “We want to understand concerns, we want to have a social and keep it simple…we are getting the people back into the spirit of having fun.”
The annual social is not the only thing that changed during the pandemic for Sacred Heart Church. According to Mr. Paglione, Mass became a virtual event only and, through the years, parishioners slowly began moving back into the building. The surprising number of people coming to church in-person now was the reason behind bringing back the social events.
“This past year, as we started to see things get better and seeing more people attending church versus watching it virtually, our Pastor Father Joe Hlubik, thought it was a good idea to bring back the St. Patrick’s day dinner and Dance,” said Mr. Paglione.
In previous years, the church also hosted a Friendship Dinner on New Year’s Eve, which would bring people in need in the community to the church for a dinner and social gathering. Food for the dinner would get delivered by a restaurant in Seaside Park as well as leftover meals from Joe Leone’s Italian Specialties. When the pandemic hit, this event also had to be adjusted.
“We have been doing a drive-and-go food donation where we serve 150 to 200 dinners to local residents,” said Mr. Paglione. “A lot of donations that come in now are given through local charities.”
It is unsure whether the Friendship Dinner will make it back to the in-person realm this year, but things are moving in a positive direction for the church as they hope to bring back annual events the town and residents can attend together.
For more information about Sacred Heart Church visit sacredheartbayhead.com/.
Mackenzie Fitchett can be reached at email@example.com or 732-223-0076 Ext 110.