Each year in Pittsburgh on the Saturday before Palm Sunday, Prince of Peace parish hosts the “Slovak Mass and Easter Customs Breakfast” at the beautiful St. Adalbert Church.
As one enters church, girls dressed in Slovak kroj (folk costume) hand out booklets with the liturgy entitled “Klaniame sa, vdaku a chvalu vzdavame Panovi a Bohu nasmu” (We worship, give thanks and praise to the Lord our God). Attendees also receive a songsheet, Slovak prayers, and an explanation of customs surrounding Slovak Easter.
Holy Mass in Slovak
The 2017 event began with the recitation of the Holy Rosary in the Slovak language, complete with the Sorrowful Mysteries. Following the Rosary, in the 2017 event, Father Peter Haladej, a native of Slovakia serving at St. Rose in Girard, Ohio, celebrated the Mass.
Holy Mass began with the processional hymn Radostou oplyvam (I am filled with joy). Following readings in Slovak and an English sermon, the congregation sang O Maria Bolestiva (Oh Agonizing Maria), which recalls the pain that Mary went through over Christ’s passion and death.
Ushers took up a collection for Father Peter, who has allowed the continuing tradition. A second collection benefited two charities in Slovakia – the orphanage in Ruzomberok, which the Sisters of St. Francis minister, and the Balicka Institute, a school for disabled children in Presov.
After the Offertory, the congregation sang the Sanctus in Slovak and recited the Otce Nas (Our Father). During Holy Communion, the congregation joined in the purifying hymn O Pane nie som hoden (O Lord I am not worthy), and then sang the very moving Moj mily Jezisu (My Dear Jesus), which recalls the redemptive passion of Christ. After Communion, people joined in singing a verse of Sladke srdce (Sweet Heart), dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
For the recessional hymn, the faithful sang Srdce puka (The Heart Bursts), recalling the sorrow associated with Jesus’ painful death, the price of the redemption of sinners. The second verse of the hymn describes the drama that the Virgin Mary experienced in witnessing and enduring her Son’s torture and death.
Slovak hymns of passion are quite moving and spare no details in describing the bloody details and mental anguish of Jesus. The extremely sad songs contrast with the joy of tje Resurrection on Easter.
Slovak Easter Customs Breakfast
After this moving experience, the congregation went to the parish hall for a Slovak Easter Breakfast and a view of Slovak Easter traditions.
Exhibits included displays of a variety of Slovak-American items as well as imported Slovak books, cards, crystal, dolls, pottery, embroideries, beautiful greeting cards handcrafted by disabled Slovak students, etc..
Other demonstrations showed crafts and provided the opportunity to purchase them. Exhibits showed how to make pysanky, the colorful Easter eggs with the intricate details of traditional Slavic motifs. Other traditions on display were the weaving of palms, Morena Dolls (symbolizing the passing of winter), painted glass, crowns of flowers (parta), and paper crafts.
The Slovak American Collection, exhibited by Donna Mima, featured many historical artifacts of the Slovak Americans, including medals and badges, songbooks, pictures, dolls, and publications.
In addition to exhibits, one could taste the special traditional foods associated with what one would enjoy on Easter morning in a typical Slovak village. The simple meal included an Easter egg, a slice of sunka (ham), klobasa (smoked sausage), paska (Easter bread), hrudka or syrek (cheese), chren (horseradish), maslo (butter), sol (salt), and some kolace (nut and poppy seed rolls) for dessert. A bake sale featured homemade kolace, paska (which quickly sold out), and other Slovak delicacies.
The event is well worth attending.