It was billed as “Family Fun Day” at Maternity BVM Parish in Bourbonnais, but Sunday’s outdoor Mass and festival — held two days before the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary — captured what Viatorians do best: Build up communities where faith is lived, deepened and celebrated.

(L-R) Br. John Eustice, Fr. Moses Mesh and Fr. Jason Nesbit

Fr. Jason Nesbit, CSV, Pastor and Fr. Moses Mesh, CSV, concelebrated the Mass together with the help of Br. John Eustice, CSV, a newly ordained transitional deacon.

The Mass took place beside the parish’s historic grotto, which was built more than 100 years ago and originally was dedicated to soldiers fighting in World War I. The site continues to stand as a lasting memorial to Mary, when she appeared to young Bernadette in 1858 in Lourdes, France.

“What a gift it’s been to us,” Fr. Jason says. “to have such a holy place on the church grounds.”

Parishioners brought their own chairs and spread out on the lawn. Even the choir sat in a special section, accompanied by musicians and their director, Chris Lord, playing the piano.

Music Director accompanies the choir.

“It was a beautiful day for an outdoor Mass,” parish officials said on their Facebook page.

The lunch and fun fair that followed was lively, with bounce houses, crafts and a cake walk for kids, as well as picnic fare for lunch and Bingo for all ages.

The outdoor Mass mirrored the one held two years ago, on the feast of the Assumption, when parish members celebrated a “grand re-opening Mass” coming out of the pandemic.

Children enjoy the cake walk.

“We celebrate that we may once more gather as a parish community, and that we may resume many of our programs,” Fr. Jason said at the time. “We celebrate that the pandemic has broadened our creativity and challenged us to reconsider how we reach people. We believe that we will not return to where we once were as a parish community — but that we have been transformed by it.”