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St. Rita women to share Italian food, heritage

| Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013, 6:20 p.m.
Lori C. Padilla | For the Daily Courier
St. Rita Christian Mothers will be celebrating Nationality Day on Friday beginning at 11 a.m. in the St. Rita Social Hall. A large variety of Italian food will be available such as pizza, manicotti, cavatelli, hot sausage, eggplant parmesan, a variety of baked goods and a spaghetti dinner with all the trimmings. Take-out orders are available by calling 724-628-5119. The celebration will last until 5:30 p.m. Preparations continue in the social hall with plenty of meatballs being rolled and precooked for the event.

The Christian Mothers of St. Rita Roman Catholic Church in Connellsville are holding a special celebration on Friday.

It's Nationality Day.

Available in the church social hall will be a variety of Italian foods.

According to Rita Pratt, president of the Christian Mothers, the St. Rita women began sharing their favorite Italian foods for a one-day event decades ago when the church participated in Nationality Days that was held in Downtown Connellsville, sponsored by the local chamber of commerce.

That event ceased a number of years ago but the women of St. Rita parish continued on their own.

Pratt said Nationality Days in Connellsville was a popular event years ago. Participants lined the streets offering different foods.

“The merchants and office workers looked forward to the delicious choices,” Pratt said, remembering the busy lunch hour.

The St. Rita women would have their booth set up in front of the former Gallatin Bank (now PNC) on West Crawford Avenue. Back then, the downtown storefronts were filled. There was G. C. Murphy's and McCrory's Five and Tens, Troutman's, Hetzel's Drug Store and many others, recalled Pratt.

“All the participants in Nationality Days kept their same spot every year. The food was prepared in the social hall and transported over to the downtown location. There were no cell phones then so when we were running low on something, the bank personnel would let me use one of their phones to call over to the social hall,” said Pratt.

Pratt said over the years, many volunteers have helped.

The late Rosella Talucci was always with Pratt and other volunteers in front of the bank, she said, while the late Nancy Hudock and an army of volunteers remained at the social hall cooking.

“The three of us always worked together on these projects, and we had a lot of help. The guys would get in the truck and go pick up what we needed and bring it back for us to sell. I think about it now and wonder how we did that because we sold everything then that we sell now,” said Pratt.

Once the downtown event ended, the Christian Mothers continued to hold a yearly event at the church social hall, located on First Street.

That's exactly where this year's event will be held.

The spaghetti dinner is one of the many popular choices available, served with two homemade meatballs, homemade roll, salad and a piece of cake. Cost is $6.

Also on the menu includes manicotti, cavatelli, eggplant parmesan, stuffed peppers, pizza, hot sausage sandwich with peppers and onions, and a meatball sandwich. There will also be a bake sale.

“We all enjoy this project because we are raising money for the church. The proceeds go to whatever the church needs. All of the volunteers are wonderful and help out willingly because they know it helps the church,” Pratt said.

Pratt said church pastor, the Rev. Bob Lubic, supports the ladies in their volunteer efforts.

“We always hope for another successful event,” Pratt said.

Nationality Day will be held from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday.

Visitors can eat in the social hall or take out.

Takeout orders can be called in at 724-628-5119 starting Friday morning.

Nancy Henry is a contributing writer.

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