Apr 19, 2014

Traditional blessing of Easter food held at Our Lady of the Cross Parish


Story and photos by Julie Beaulieu

HOLYOKE – Continuing a Polish tradition, parishioners of Our Lady of the Cross Parish here participated in an Easter Blessing of the Food April 19.

Formal blessings were held every hour on the hour from 11:00 am through 3:00 pm.

“Blessing of the Easter foods is a strong tradition among the Polish people,” said Coventual Franciscan Father Albert Scherer, administrator of the parish.

“Traditions are important,” he told iobserve, “and we did not want our Polish parishioners to lose this tradition after the merger took place.” Holy Cross Parish and Our Lady of Mater Dolorosa parish, both in Holyoke, were merged in 2011 as part of the Diocese of Springfield’s most recent pastoral planning reconfigurations that were implemented throughout western Massachusetts beginning in 2008.

“We have also encouraged our non-Polish parishioners to make the Blessing of the Foods a new tradition for them,” added Father Scherer.

The Reznikiewicz family continues to practice their Polish customs. “It’s a family tradition and it means a lot,” said Barbara Reznikiewicz, referring to the Easter weekend custom. “My husband is Polish and I’ve followed these traditions since I was married and the kids were little,” she said.

“Even though my mother-in-law passed away, we bring her basket and cloth, and it’s like part of her is here with us.”

Walter Reznikiewicz is an alumnus of Mater Dolorosa grammar School in Holyoke, a member of the class of 1956. “My parents took me to MD’s since I was a child for the food blessing,” Walter Reznikiewicz told iobserve. “Tomorrow, we eat the blessed food for Easter dinner.

“My grandparents came over from Poland. We used to live near the corner of High Street and Lyman Street (in Holyoke), which was the Polish section,” he recalled.

About 50 people attended the noontime blessing. Many brought their children and grandchildren to participate in the tradition. The blessed foods will be eaten at Easter dinner as Catholics celebrate the Easter season and the Risen Christ.