A record number of guests celebrated and honored the Felician heritage and mission at the third annual Pittsburgh-based What’s Cooking with the Felician Sisters? event on Thursday evening, May 3.
Guests were transported to turn-of-the century Europe and North America via a virtual journey to the streets of Warsaw, Poland; the town of Assisi, Italy; and to the village of Polonia, Wisconsin, to experience where and how the Felician Sisters’ mission began.
Held at the Heinz History Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution in Pittsburgh, PA, the event was created as a unique opportunity to learn about the Felician heritage and mission, and the values that inspired the sisters as they brought the Felician mission to a new continent.
An assemblage of ministry partners, associates, friends, benefactors, and people from throughout the Western Pennsylvania area dined in a simulated European café, surrounded by 30-foot photographic displays of venues in Poland and Assisi, Italy to recreate the experience of “being there.”
Attendees enjoyed a strolling dinner featuring a range of European cuisine as well as cooking demonstrations by guest chefs Father Samuel J. Esposito, episcopal vicar for On Mission for the Church Alive, Diocese of Pittsburgh;
S Rita Marie Vondra; and chefs from the Pittsburgh area as they prepared a variety of European culinary delights tableside.
Adding to the evening’s enjoyment were Eastern European dance performances by members of the folk dance troupe, the Folk Factory.
S Judith Marie Blizzard, S Desiré Ann-Marie Findlay, S Grace Marie Spera, and SM Adrian Jumbelic extended hallmark Felician hospitality as they greeted guests at food stations throughout the room and talked about the Felician heritage and the ministries that it has spawned.
SM Christopher Moore, provincial minister, welcomed the guests and Valerie Oltmanns, executive director, Office of Communications, served as master of ceremonies and introduced the new film “Celebrating a Mission of Service.” The film, written and created by Valerie, explores the beginnings of the Felician community, the Franciscan heritage, how and why the Felician mission was transported to the North American continent, and how that Felician heritage, history, and mission is to be celebrated and promulgated in the new Felician Heritage Center and Archives.
The film features an overview of the plans for the new Heritage Center and aspects of the creative design currently underway. Slated to open in 2021, The Felician Heritage Center and Archives will be built on the campus of Madonna University within the University’s new Welcome Center.
The What’s Cooking with the Felician Sisters? event, first piloted in the Pittsburgh area in 2016, marks a series of events that have been and will continue to be replicated in various locales throughout the Province over the course of the next several years.
“We are delighted that this year’s What’s Cooking with the Felician Sisters? event in Pittsburgh so captivated our audience,” said Valerie who, along with Robin Monza of the Communications Office, planned the event.
“Guests commented on how the event inspired them. Many came away asking how they could volunteer or partner with us to advance our mission.”