No one counts down the months to St. Patrick’s Day more than parishioners of St. Patrick’s Church in Kankakee. Every year, in mid-September they mark the halfway point, with their annual Half-Paddy Fest, and it’s always a hit.

“Because St. Patrick’s Day is too much fun to have just once a year,” parishioners say.

This year was no different, except that it took on the added significance of falling during the church’s 125-year jubilee.

“It was a complete success,” said Fr. John Peeters, CSV, pastor. “The weatherman cooperated, the food was delicious, the music was loud, and people came out in droves.”

Now in its 12th year, the two-day festival draws not only parishioners but members of the wider Bourbonnais/Kankakee region and from across the Joliet Diocese. They come for the live music, as well as multiple games and contests — from the green jello eating to the best legs in a kilt — a trip to Ireland raffle and an authentic corned beef dinner.

Festivities spread out across the campus of the historic church, which dates back to 1893 — and 1931, when Viatorians first arrived to serve there.

Half-Paddy Fest was designed as an event for families, says Associate Marilyn Mulcahy, to come together to enjoy food, fun and laughter.

While the festival raises money for parish expenses, what it really does is energize and connect members of the parish with one another. It all comes under the heading of “building up communities of faith,” which is one of the main pillars of the Viatorian Community.