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Papa Palooza is like “an old-fashioned family picnic”

Papa Palooza to bring Irish-themed fun to St. Louis ahead of World Meeting of Families in Ireland

The excitement around the upcoming World Meeting of Families in August won’t just be limited to crowds in Dublin, Ireland. On Saturday, July 28, the archdiocesan Office of Laity and Family Life will bring the festivities to St. Louis, hosting the second-ever “Papa Palooza.”

“I think the greatest part about it is the fact that it brings families together,” said Julie Bostick, executive director of the Office of Laity and Family Life.

The first Papa Palooza, in 2015, celebrated Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. for the world meeting in Philadelphia that year.

Organized by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, the World Meeting of Families occurs every three years and was begun in 1994 at the initiative of St. Pope John Paul II. The meeting in Ireland will take place August 21-26, with Pope Francis attending the final two days of the event.

The Palooza in St. Louis will feature games and outdoor activities — prizes included — on the grounds of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. Designed as something a family can do together, Papa Palooza is “an event that they could all go to,” Bostick said.

Bostick described the activities as a mix of catechesis and fun, mirroring the components of the papal meeting. The Palooza is “sort of like our version of it,” she said.

Kitty Mandis of the Office of Laity and Family Life said that the event would have an “Irish theme” in keeping with the meeting in Dublin.

After the fun and games wind down, an outdoor Mass will be celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Mark Rivituso at 4 p.m. Dinner from P’Sghetti’s will be provided afterwards. The evening will include an outdoor concert featuring Adam Wright, music director at Christ Prince of Peace Parish.

But it isn’t just an event for kids and the parents: priests, seminarians and religious sisters will also be present at the festivities. Bostick described the 2015 event as “a great testimony to all four vocations,” referring to families, priests, religious and single life.

Children “actually saw priests and sisters and seminarians who were playing with them,” Bostick said. “We had a seminarian who actually played the music for Hula Palooza,” a musical chairs-like activity.

“It’s like an old-fashioned family picnic, except it’s an extended family with the Church,” she said.

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