Friday, May 15, 2020

Saint Sebastian Festival Cancelled For First Time In History

Submitted by Frank Logiudice
The 99th Anniversary of the Saint Sebastian's Church Festival has been cancelled this year as a result
From the 2009 Festival
of the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Church officials and feast organizers made the decision to cancel this year’s three-day feast which includes the annual "I Nuri Run" which is normally held on the last day of the feast.   During this run the faithful gather at the Saint Sebastian’s Cemetery in Middlefield to say prayers to their departed relatives, to God & Saint Sebastian before they depart for the church in Middletown.  They are either barefoot or in stocking feet wearing white clothes with a red sash and a picture of St. Sebastian is pinned on their sash.  This is the first time in the 99 year history of the church that the feast was cancelled according to church organizers Chairman Dr. Gene Nocera & Phillip Pessina.

The pastor Reverend James Thaikoottathil stated "Our May Feast is fast approaching.  This year's feast will be very different from our past celebrations."  Father James Thaikoottathil further stated that the statue of Saint Sebastian will be unveiled on Saturday, May 16, 2020 for the 5:30 p.m. mass and this mass will be without the congregation.  It will be lived streamed on the Saint Sebastian's Church Facebook Page and YouTube channel.  On Sunday, May 17th the church will be open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. so parishioners can pray privately and "...invoke in front of the statue" according to Father James Thaikoottathil.  Parishioners may enter the church through the ramp side door.   He is encouraging all parishioners when they enter the church to wear masks and gloves. Plus, to follow the safe social distance guidelines while inside.  Father James Thaikoottathil is discouraging the practice of pinning money to the statue as in past festivals for this year's celebration.  If parishioners would like to donate money, they could send it to the parish office with a memo on the check according to Father James Thaikoottathil.

Unlike in previous festivals the "I Nuri" will not be involved in this year's feast according to Chairman Dr. Gene Nocera.  This year's celebration will not be rescheduled if the COVID-19 pandemic improves and the state moves into phase two of reopening the state on June 20th.  Chairman Nocera said "Not at this time."   Nocera did state "we are planning a dinner when it’s safe to gather."

Father James Thaikoottathi did leave hope for next year's festival in which the Saint Sebastian's Church in Middletown will be celebrating its centennial anniversary.  He stated "Our 100th feast in Middletown will be more spiritual and focused on the love and devotion to Saint Sebastian."  Pessina echoed the pastor's comments about next year stating "Next year God Willing. We will plan a great 100 year celebration!"

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