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OLPH celebrates its diversity

Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) held its third annual Family Night mass and barbecue in its schoolyard Monday, August 10 to celebrate the parish’s diversity.

“Tonight we celebrate our family—our parish family,” Father James Gilmour said during the mass. “We can help make this neighborhood more united.”

About 200 people attended the event that featured most of the church’s constituency, an uncommon occurrence for OLPH, which usually hosts separate masses in English, Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese because of the area’s ethnic diversity. Father John McKenna said the Family Night was thus meant to gather those groups into one space for a celebration.

“We wanted something to gather people. In the summer people tend to disperse,” he said. “It’s like a block party. Every year it seems to get bigger.”

“It’s not just gathering at a church; it’s gathering at a party. It’s very human,” Gilmour said about Family Night. “People meet people [from other masses] they may not meet otherwise.”

OLPH’s pastors translated the mass into the four languages Monday night before the barbecue, which featured free food, music and games.

“It’s a successful night. Everyone seems to get along with each other,” Mark Rosales, a local resident, said. “All the different ethnic groups coming together is good. You don’t see that too often.”

“I like the bouncy house,” Alexus Soto, a neighborhood youngster, said. “I like that we get to bounce in it.”

During the mass, the pastors also bid farewell to Father Kevin Moley and officially welcomed two new arrivals: Gilmour, who started working at OLPH on Tuesday, August 4, and Ronald Matorelli, who OLPH’s Catholic Academy’s board appointed as the school’s new principal.

“It was the most wonderful six years of my life,” said Moley, who has been assigned to a church in North Carolina. “I will always thank God for the opportunity to be at the parish with my family and where I grew up.”

“I’m stepping into a whole current of unity with the groups,” said Gilmour, who was a pastor at Sacred Heart in Baltimore before he arrived at OLPH. “I’m not going to be creating it; I’m going to be strengthening it.”

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