Emporia’s Sacred Heart Parish attracts thousands for annual Mexican Supper
by Bob Hart
EMPORIA — You start with 800 pounds of beef. Add some garlic, minced onion, pepper and hashbrown potatoes. Wrap in a warmed tortilla. Pin with a toothpick. Deep-fry.
Get 250 or so of your friends to help, send the word out to the entire town, and before you know it, you’ve got a Mexican Supper, Sacred Heart-style.
For the 35th consecutive year, parents, students, teachers and parishioners came together Sept. 19 to bene- fit the PTO of Sacred Heart School by serving the best tacos in town to thousands of supportive locals.
“I think it went really well,” said parishioner and parent Becky DeJesus, who was in charge of this year’s benefit. “We served over 3,000 meals.”
Students sold advance tickets ($6), and members of the community began lining up before the official 4:30 p.m. start time to purchase more tickets at the door ($7). They were treated to two tacos, rice, chips and cheese, beverages and a wide range of homemade desserts.
“We have some women in the parish who make some amazing pies,” DeJesus said. The enthusiastic crowd seemed to agree.
Proceeds from the annual event, which has become an Emporia tradition, help fund Sacred Heart PTO activities for the entire school year.
DeJesus began planning this year’s event at the beginning of July, working with Melissa Paolo, co-chair; Amy Scheller, head scheduler; Mandy McManaman, ticket sales; and Lorinda Duncan, kitchen chief. For DeJesus, like many of the dedicated volunteers, it was definitely a family affair.
DeJesus’ husband Mark served as head cook, and their son Connor, a student in Rita Bluma’s 5th- and 6th grade class, handed out trays to hungry customers on their way to pick up their meals.
“I think Connor had a lot of fun,” DeJesus said. “He stayed to help clean up and everything. He told me he was tired at the end.”
Fun for everyone
“When a lot of Emporians think of Sacred Heart, they think of the Mexican Supper,” said pastor Father Darren Henson. “This is a huge community event.”
Indeed, with literally thousands of Emporia citizens lining up for eat-in or take-out dinners, Sacred Heart’s Mexican Supper reaches far beyond the walls of the church and school. But it is within those walls that the event begins.
“Everyone’s involved,” said 1st- and 2nd-grade teacher Kathy Hastings, taking part in her first Mexican Supper. “The kids are pumped, very excited. My class helped put out chairs to help. The older kids take a larger role. It’s fun for everyone.”
DeJesus conceded that the annual event is a huge and sometimes exhausting undertaking, with challenges at every turn.
“One of the toughest things is finding people to work in the afternoon — the early shift,” she said. “Parents are either at work or have other commitments. But it always seems to happen.”
“Honestly,” DeJesus added with a laugh, “even though I’m in charge, I’m not sure how it all gets done. But it does!”