Festa Italiana sparkles through the rain in New Kensington

Everyone is Italian, and everyone in the family is at the Festa Italiana in the Church of Mount St. Peter Roman Catholic Church in New Kensington.

This is what the Archdiocese of Arnold Dona Moto said at its launch Friday evening.

“It’s great to see people coming out after the coronavirus, everyone is here,” Mutu said. She was among dozens of volunteers who helped prepare treats like 3,000 meatballs and endless amounts of lasagna for the festival.

“We made meatballs last week and lasagna Thursday and Friday; I forgot the number of trays,” Moto said. “I’m a parishioner, and I love helping out in my church and doing everything to help the parish. The only thing I wish was for Mother Nature to be better.”


The feast, which has not been held since 2019, has been replaced by drive-by lasagna dinners and virtual basket raffles in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The event was going to be raining or shining. Unfortunately, there was heavy rain on opening day. So much so that the National Weather Service has issued several flash flood warnings for western Pennsylvania.

“(Things) are crazy with the rain, but we’re fine,” said Gina Abdullah, the parish vicar in charge of the dessert tent. “Everyone loves cannoli, and they can’t wait to get it. I love working with these people. Father Rossello (Meloria) is new in the parish. He just jumped right in (to help me). Every year these women come back to help.

“And that means the world to me. It’s such a wonderful group of people. We just talked this morning about how we are a family. We work together. We’ve been here since seven in the morning working, which is great. You don’t even feel tired.”

The festival also included lasagna, sausage, pizza, pasta, and a large selection of baked goods. There were games of chance and an inflatable basketball game for the kids.

Nearly 70 lottery baskets have been donated to the church. Items included artwork, electronics, books, gift cards, lottery tickets, drinks for adults, car and kitchen supplies, as well as various pet products.

Basket lottery coordinator Marilyn Schroeder said the proceeds help outreach programs in the parish. It took several months to collect all the gifts.

“We don’t have any particular goal,” Schroeder said of the fundraising. “We view everything as a blessing (and) everything that works. People are very generous and very creative. I was very impressed. (Festival) is a great way for people to come together and have some food, fellowship and faith.”

Gail Becker of Penn Hills was one of the many sponsors who bought lottery tickets.

She said she and her husband, Carl, were in their fifth year at the festival.

“The baskets are just wonderful,” she said. “We come every year. I’m Italian and we were born and raised in Bloomfield. There are a lot of nice things for home, but at my age you have most of them. I’m going for money and gift cards. Gift cards you can always use.”

“Even though I don’t belong here, I still love to support the churches. I was born and raised Catholic and I know how difficult the financial situation is. Especially today – with all the churches merging.”

Baskets and most of the main dishes inside the church. Games, crafts and pizza outside in the tents.

Some of the guests wore T-shirts that read “Proud to be Italian” and “Legalizing Marinara.”

Julia Morrow from New Kensington and her boyfriend, Lucas Herman from Lower Burrell, enjoyed some pizza and fried dough with the family.

“My family is visiting town, so we thought that was a good thing to come and do it with everyone,” Morrow said. “We have an umbrella, so it’s not that bad.”

Cathy Collette, parishioner and principal of Mount St Peter’s School since 2002, said she was pleased to have the festival back after an epidemic hiatus.

“It’s great to be back and see people again in private,” she said. “Make new friends and see some of the people you know from church and school. It’s a beautiful experience.”

Michael DeVitorio is a Tribune Review writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected], or via Twitter .