Growing up, my family used to play a game on long car rides called, “I’m going on a picnic.”  It was a guessing game of sorts in which, through a series of exchanges between the leader of the picnic and the guests  coming to it, the players would try to figure out the leader’s hidden conditions as to what items were allowed or not.  You’d say something like, “I’m going on a picnic and I am bringing yogurt” as well as “milk” and “cheese” and because the leader told you yes to these items and no to “juice” and “a baseball” you figured out that you could only bring dairy items to this affair.  Maybe you played a game like this with your family or friends.  In any event, for us kids, this game sharpened our thinking and attending skills and kept our minds occupied on something other than, “are we there yet” for which I think Mom and Dad were grateful for.  But the best thing about these imaginary picnics we would go on, is that they brought our family together.  I look back at something as uninteresting as a long car ride, and think of them as fond memories and time well spent.

There are many good reasons for going on a picnic.  Whereas many of us spend so much time indoors or in front of a screen, it gets us out and about and into God’s creation.  Whereas many of us are pulled in different directions for varying activities and don’t have the time to eat together even, a picnic is set aside specifically for the purposes of undivided time of being together and sharing life together with the people we love and care about.  Whereas many of us take ourselves and the matters of this world too seriously, a picnic is generally a more carefree affair reconnecting us with the joy that God wants us to experience.  Maybe we would approach life differently if there were more picnics in our lives.

This coming weekend, July 23rd and July 24th is our 173rd annual St. Mary’s Summer Picnic.  That’s a long time running, and it’s our biggest Community Event by far, bringing hundreds of folks together from our parish and from all over Western New York.  “I’m going on a picnic, and I’m bringing…”

–    MASS: God is coming to our picnic.  On Saturday, there will be an outdoor Mass at 5:30pm under the tent.

–  CLAM CHOWDER: We are known for our Chowder.  Last year we had 10 kettles – this year we will have 15 kettles on hand.  On Sunday you can get your chowder, and bring your own containers once again, and we dug deep and perfected the recipe, bringing back the chowder that everyone knows and loves.  You can be a part of that recipe, being a part of the tradition of cutting vegetables after Saturday Mass (bring your own utensils please).

–   RUNNING SHOES: The 5K Chowder Chase runs on Saturday evening at 7pm.  Best of luck!

–  GAMES: There is “I Got It”, there will be the adult gambling and games of skill throughout the weekend, along with lots of activities for the kids in our Kids Zone all of Sunday, with various events happening throughout the afternoon

–   MUSIC: Not Quite Right will be playing Saturday night and then Gimme Buffet on Sunday!

–   TRINKETS AND TREASURES: On Sunday, shop all day.   Someone’s old stuff might be your new treasure!

–  FOOD AND DRINK:  On Saturday local venues Luigi’s, Stockman’s, & Lil Jenny’s Ice Cream truck will be on hand… Sunday is the Chicken BBQ and Food Court; the Wild Horse Wine & Beer Tent will be open all weekend!

–  YOU: I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing my parish family.  And you are welcome to bring your family and friends besides.  Going on a picnic is time well spent.  We love our Church and our faith community – let’s keep our parish vibrant and our community alive and strong.  Thanks for helping us and joining us at the picnic once again this year.  See you there!