Origins of the Festival


V. Rev. Father Joseph Allen

We always had some sort of “Festival,” but it was in 1977 when we built the Church Hall -what we now call Ivy Hall- that the Festival took a gigantic step in which it became a central form of financial support for St Anthony’s.

I remember it so clearly. The Women’s Guild ran it as their major event.  And they worked very hard – and argued every step of the way.

At the first meeting I told them, “Now the we finally built a hall, we have to think ‘bigger’!”  No more could we just break down the Sunday School and contain ourselves downstairs. They sat motionless; they were shocked to hear such a different venue.  And the shock merely grew when I added: “We should be able to now make about $15,000”.  They said they would be pleased if we could make $4,000 (they made $3,500 the previous year).

I told them they would have to “think differently”.  ” We will need to do some PR.”  WHAT?!  What kind of PR?   “It’s only our parishioners and they already know about the Festival,” they said. “And how much would that cost?”   I said: “Well, more than $50”. WHAT?! $50 for PR?!  Where is all this money coming from?

And we went on like that- every step, from decorations, to bakery, to the kitchen. Every step was a struggle.

I turned to Thelma Dacales and the late Ed Takla to help me change their minds and get them thinking progressively.  The first thing we did was to develop a Manual which contained a Chart of who was who, and who would do what in order to reach our goal.

We did. And we made the $15,000. I could feel our minds and hearts expand!

These humble beginnings should never be forgotten. This is also why it is so disturbing when I see a lack of enthusiasm, or cynicism, or judgmentalism – or any purposeful negative response surrounding our festival efforts.

And now we are taking another giant step. Will you be with us?

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