Johnston's Our Lady of Grace celebrates 101st Feast

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Our Lady of Grace Church’s annual feast and festival, which is named in honor of La Madonna della DiFesa, was a fun and food-filled event that featured many MVPs (Most Valuable Parishioners) over a four-day stretch last weekend at jam-packed Festival Field in Johnston.

Moreover, as Rev. Peter J. Gower best described it: “It was a true celebration of faith, celebration of family, a celebration of friendship.”

The Roman Catholic Church’s 101st feast and festival ran over four successive nights and as Chairperson Joanne Burley and her tireless team of volunteers will attest, the 2021 edition featured family fun, fine food and wonderful weather for people of all ages.

Father Gower, who has created a special sense of community during his tenure, wanted it known: “I am truly blessed to be their spirit leader, and I am amazed how they rally in support of everything I challenge this team to do.”

The popular pastor, who also performed a number of duties in addition to welcoming proud parishioners to guests, went on: “This was a celebration of faith; we gathered in church as we honored Our Protectorate Madonna della DiFesa and proudly carried her through the streets of Johnston as we bore witness to our faith in to so many who gathered to watch the procession.”

Also, as Father Gower noted: “This was a celebration of family; every member of this family of faith gathered together to make this spectacular event happen. We had over 140 volunteers, children, adults and elderly working for four days because of their devotion to the OLG family.”

Gower concluded saying: “It was a celebration of friendship; this feast fosters lasting friendships as we all work together for months planning, cooking, advertising then setting up festival field for our countless and valued supporters who visit us from all over the state to enjoy our fine foods and friendliness!”

There were many examples of the many duties parishioners of all ages perform, one being folks like Phyllis Gelsomino and Joe Grasso working in the kitchen year-after-year to help cook and fill the many orders for macaroni and meatballs to Lasagna.

Likewise, it doesn’t matter if your title is volunteer or chairperson, for Burley and Team OLG it’s roll-up-the-sleeves and do whatever duties necessary that will result in pleasing people’s palates and pocketbooks.

In keeping with tradition, rides and gamers of chance — which featured prizes ranging from large stuffed animals to inflated life-like creatures — every aspect of Harold Fera’s famous Rockwell Amusements added to the fun and family festivities.”

All proceeds from the four-day fun and food fest benefit the overall operation of 100-year-old-plus Our Lady of Grace Church, which is located at 15 Lafayette St. in Johnston.

When asked what’s next on OLG’s always-active social schedule, Father Gower replied: “Our golf tournament on Oct. 5.”

That event, which has become a classic in recent years, will again be played at Rhode Island Country Club in Barrington and people who’d like to enter should call OLG at 401-131-2220.

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