Mother of Divine Providence (MDP) Catholic Church in King of Prussia held its third-annual Community Carnival Last week and according to organizers, the event has been hugely successful in bringing a closer sense of community from both parishioners and non-parishioners alike.
"It’s not difficult at all when you have a community like we do," said Monica Pedano, carnival committee chairperson. "We are so blessed to have the community response that we have had."
According to Pedano, the carnival, which took place on the grounds of MDP, was first suggested three years ago by then pastor Rev. Monsignor John Conway with the idea of growing community presence. The carnival has since become the parish’s largest event in terms of participation and fundraising.
The carnival featured rides and various attractions for all ages. Its more unique aspects include live music and homemade dishes cooked by volunteers and parishioners. In addition to the homemade meals, various nights of the carnival also featured cuisine from local businesses, such as Chic-fil-A and Screwballs Sports Bar & Grille in King of Prussia.
Pedano said that the carnival averaged 100-125 volunteers each night, some from MDP, as well as neighboring Catholic churches. Local first responders also lent their time to help maintain safety and direct the increased traffic along Allendale Road.
To Continue the Work
According to Pedano, the net proceeds from last year’s event amounted to $32,000, but was stymied due to poor weather. This year, Pedano said that the carnival was on track to reaching its $50,000 goal.
Current MDP pastor, Rev. Father Martin Cioppi, said he is pleased with the increased participation of the annual carnival, as it is an occasion to share faith and joy.
"The carnival is an opportunity to build community," Cioppi said. "We have an opportunity to show them how our Christian life benefits us."
According to Cioppi, his parish fervently prayed for the success of the Community Carnival in the days leading up to the event.
"It’s appropriate to pray that this as a success, and how much can we raise the funds needed to continue our work," Cioppi said.
Proceeds from the carnival directly benefit the work and mission of MDP. In the past, such proceeds also benefitted its parochial school of the same name, with the church providing tuition subsidies and other financial support for its students.
New School, New Name
This year, after 56 years, MDP Catholic School has closed as a result of school consolidations mandated by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia back in January. As part of the consolidations, MDP has merged with St. Teresa of Avila Catholic School in Audubon. The merged schools will now be referred to as Mother Teresa Regional Catholic School (MTC), and will be housed in the MDP location.
"Our merger with St. Teresa is a good one," Cioppi said. "Our parish community is always open. It’s ours to work with anyone, so we can achieve our needs for Catholic education."
While MDP and St. Teresa of Avila churches maintain their parish identies, those involved with the creation of MTC say that the merger has been successful in fostering a new school community, as signified by the new St. Teresa of Avila volunteers at this year’s MDP carnival.
"I’m walking around and not recognizing faces, and that means new people from around the area," Marianne Houston, MDP business manager, said with a smile.
According to Houston, MDP finished off its final year with 267 pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students.
She said the expected enrollment for the upcoming MTC school year exceeds expectations with at least 375 students.
MTC is also expected to pull students from parishes in Bridgeport and Conshohocken, school officials say. The same officials also state that MTC has room for growth, as new facility construction will be considered, should the need arise.
Wanting to both present MTC to the general public and help St. Teresa of Avila families feel more welcomed in the area, the MDP carnival set up an MTC welcome tent.
The tent was located near the entrance to the carnival, and featured new MTC school pride gear for sale and offered information. The tent was manned by Tracy Barone, MTC pre-k-3 teacher; Amanda Swartz, formerly of St. Teresa of Avila School and now MTC second-grade teacher; and Nellie Anstock, former MDP home-and-school president.
"It’s great, we’re expanding the population here, the student body is increasing," Anstock said. "We want Catholic education to thrive and be together, and if it takes two schools merging together, then we’re all for it."