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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Gaelic & Garlic Get-Together

Shaymus McNamelli & Giuseppe O'Diug co-host. (Thanks to Br. Kevin Dargan for the use of his costumes!)

We folks living here at the center have long pondered how to celebrate St. Patrick's Day (a quaint, tribal festival of limited importance) on March 17 with the far greater and vastly more popular Solemnity of St. Joseph (March 19), patron of Italy and, in his spare time, also patron of the Universal Church.

Well, the good people heading our Wellness Initiative: Fr. John Moran,
Br. Wayne Fitzpatrick and Dr. Claudia Kobkenz-Sulcov in hierarchical order, (but inverted order of importance) hit upon a creative, albeit grotesque solution: combine the two and celebrate both on March 15 (only detrimental if your name is Julius Caesar.)

Thus it was last Thursday at noon we celebrated the combined holidays of SS Patrick and Joseph: Gaelic and Garlic!

Yours truly co-hosted as an Italian Leprechaun (I TOLD you it was grotesque!) Giuseppe O'Diug. (That's Guido backwards). My partner in parody was none other than Shaymus McNamelli (a.k.a. Fr. Don Doherty) as a member of the Irish Mafia, don't ya know. "Never heard of the Irish Mafia??? And just how long have you been in Maryknoll?"

As the members filed in for lunch, they were greeted at the doors by above-mentioned Wellness Initiative folks who gave them party favors and raffle tickets.

As they enjoyed a delightful fusion meal of fine Italian cuisine and Irish "food" (pasta pesto, escarole and white bean soup, lamb, Irish trifle and coffee for dessert and mercifully no hint of corned beef and cabbage) prepared by the talented Sodexo staff, the men were serenaded (another fine Gaelic word) by the Maryknoll band consisting of Frs. Paul Masson, Fern Gosslin and Joe Arsenault and laymen Mssrs. John Gallagher, Larry and Dominic (whose last names I shall supply anon.)

Then Shaymus and Giuseppe took the stage and regaled the troops with such lines as: "How exactly do you make Kelly Green? (Take away his Guinness.)

"Garlic lowers blood pressure; Gaelic not so much."

"For a leprechaun, you don't have much of a brogue." (You know what they say, 'If it's not brogue, don't fix it.')

We had our share of would-be hecklers. One old man (thus protecting anonymity) asked why Italians celebrate St. Joseph since he wasn't Italian. The shorter yet better-looking and wittier of the two MCs retorted: "Yeah? Well, St. Patrick wasn't Irish, so what's your point?"

This banter was mercifully broken up with raffling off gift cards at Starbucks or Barnes & Noble etc.

Then came the sing-a-long section with the band and MCs leading the amazingly still present assembly in: When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, Santa Lucia, Wearing of the Green, O Sole Mio, Danny Boy and That's Amore.

Lastly, with each of the 13 tables forming a team, a 10 Question Trivia Quiz posed such head-scratchers as "Where was St. Patrick born?" "Who was the last king of Italy" and "Who is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotte popularly known as?" (Britain, Umberto II and Lady Gaga).

Prizes were awarded to the two teams who tied for first place with eight correct answers and two teams who tied with seven correct answers each.

It must be noted that the answer to one question (How many counties are in the Republic of Ireland?) led to an animated exchange when the much older and less popular of the two MCs  supplied the wrong answer as 32. Other Sons or Eire quickly pointed out there are 26 in the Republic but 6 in the North. Or as one man put it "What the hell do you think the war was all about?"

All I have to say is thank goodness the Italians never fight or disagree about anything.

The gala ended at 1:10 p.m. One measure of success was that several men lingered over coffee to chat well past 1:30.

Maryknoll's secret: from diversity, amusement!

Sent from my most excellent, albeit antiquated, iPhone 4

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