By Lili DeGrasse
(Tampa, Fla. – January 29) – Over the weekend of January 25-27, Mary Help of Christians Center in Tampa held its Don Bosco Festival. The festival, held each year on the last weekend in January to celebrate the feast of St. John Bosco, the founder of the Salesian Family, and is jam-packed with activities for all ages to enjoy.
Festivities began with a dinner on Friday evening. Guests enjoyed live music sung by parishioner Courtney Welch and a drumming performance by youths of the parish’s Korean community. There were also silent and live auctions, delicious food, and the drawing for the winner of a car raffle. (Clara McCarthy was the lucky winner.) Long-time parishioners and friends of Mary Help of Christians Edwin and Kathy Celeiro were the guests of honor that night and were paid tribute for the efforts and the sacrifices of time, talent, and treasure that they’ve made for Mary Help throughout the years.
Saturday was a full day of activities running simultaneously, including the Mary Rocks! youth conference, boat rides, inflatable bounce houses, horse rides, carnival games, and a petting zoo, where both children and youths especially enjoyed the animals. For the bargain hunters who attended, there was a flea market and craft vendors selling their wares. Live music at lakeside, by the outdoor altar, entertained attendees. A mud volleyball tournament was a new attraction this year, and several Cristo Rey Tampa High School students participated. The day ended with a chili cook-off and taste-testing; the winning chili was made by none other than Sr. Rosemary Cordes, FMA!
On Sunday, many parts of Florida, including Tampa, had day-long rain. But that didn’t stop the Don Bosco Festival! The day began with a solemn Mass in honor of St. John Bosco in the gymnasium. Six Salesian Cooperators were inducted at the Mass, and four women received the Mama Margaret Award for their outstanding effort in serving, assisting, and improving Mary Help. Festival-goers also enjoyed bingo and foods from the international food fest, including Mexican, Italian, Korean, Filipino, Salvadoran, Vietnamese, and Southern cuisines. Fr. Franco Pinto, director, expressed his gratitude to all who attended the festival and to all the staff and volunteers who put it together.