Konpa music, a "dress to impress" contest, and a combination of Caribbean and Haitian foods are not typical components of a church get-together. Then again, St. Angela's Parish in Mattapan is no ordinary church, hosting three different masses on Sunday, with a choice of French, English and Kreyol.
Church-goers can experience these events at St. Angela's "Spring Gala, Dinner and Dance" this Saturday, one of several happenings in the parish's year-long centennial celebration. St. Angela's held its first Mass over 100 years ago on Dec. 28, 1907. They began their centennial celebration last December with a combined English and Kreyol mass.
Fundraising coordinator Angela Hylton said St. Angela's is an "outstanding landmark in the community" and she is looking forward to seeing both veteran St. Angela's churchgoers and newcomers alike come and support the church at this weekend's gala.
"Our church is very diverse, and that diversity gives us all the different people from different islands and culture that come to one place for the same reasons," Hylton said. "It will be a fun night of camaraderie and sharing."
Father William Joy, the pastor at St. Angela's since 1995, said in addition to the raffles, contests and dancing, there will be a great variety of food - including his own special BBQ baked bean dish. The event is not catered; instead, church members will be cooking their own recipes representing various Caribbean communities.
Hylton, who has been a member of St. Angela's for 15 years, also said their centennial celebration events are to raise money for maintenance their church needs, such as restoring church benches.
"We are a very united church," Hylton said. "Sixty percent is Haitian and 40 percent English, and we are all working together for common goal of restoring and maintaining the church. We are putting a little more effort into this particular event - it's very special for us."
Suze Pierre, a parishioner at St. Angela's since 1993, said she is looking forward to the "dress to impress" contest on Saturday, where the church will give a prize to the best-dressed couple.
"Like anything of joy, this get-together will be a happy night," Pierre said. "(We want) to invite everybody and come celebrate with us."
The history of how St. Angela's was named back in the turn of the 20th century is best told by Father William Joy.
"The first pastor of St. Angela's was Father Ryan, and when Dorchester was building parishes, Archbishop Williams wanted to name them after the four evangels - Mark, Matthew, John and Luke," Father Joy said. "But Father Ryan, who had always admired the nuns who were attacked and driven out of Somerville during the 'Know-Nothing days,' said he was going to name his church after Angela, who was a founder of present-day parochial schools. And he stuck to his guns and named his parish St. Angela's."
St. Angela's Parish has held numerous other events this year in celebration of their centennial, including a February Black History celebration. The parish hosted a combined Mass and had the Archdiocesean Black Catholic choir join their own two choirs - one singing in English, the other in Kreyol.
The parish also hosted a "Wellness Day" on May 17, where church-goers were able to get screened for diabetes, receive blood testing and participate in various clinics focused on adult health, and a youth fashion show on May 24. For the fashion show local clothing store Everything Beautiful in Mattapan donated clothing, and local kids ranging from five years to 16 modeled them.
These smaller events are "helping to defray the costs" of two large centennial celebration events later this year, Hylton said.
Cardinal Sean O'Malley, head of the Boston Archdiocese, will say mass at St. Angela's on Sept. 28, and the archdiocese will have a centennial dinner on Nov. 1 at Lombardo's in Randolph. The Spring Gala, Dinner and Dance will take place at St. Angela's church, 1548 Blue Hill Ave, on Saturday, June 14, from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Tickets are $20 per person.