By Tony DeGol
After some serious consideration, siblings Logan, Ella, and Makena Klatt chose the Free Fall as their favorite ride at DelGrosso’s Amusement Park in Tipton.
It is a tower in which riders are taken to the top and dropped from different intervals, giving them a feeling of weightlessness.
When the Klatt children and their parents, Lew and Monica, are not enjoying amusement park rides, they like to feel grounded, and their Catholic faith helps them achieve that goal.
“We hold our faith very firm to our hearts,” insisted Monica Klatt. “It’s very important that we instill it in our kids, so any event like this that gives us the chance to show them that other people value that, as well, is great.
The Klatts were among the many local Catholics who turned out for the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown’s annual Faith Day at DelGrosso’s on June 25, coinciding with the World Meeting of Families in Rome, a gathering that occurs every three years in the Catholic Church.
As always, the Tipton gathering afforded folks the opportunity to celebrate their faith with other Catholics from throughout the eight-county diocese in a fun and relaxing setting.
It was a welcome opportunity for Lew and Monica Klatt, parishioners of the Basilica of Saint Michael the Archangel in Loretto. Their three children, ages 11, nine, and seven, attend Saint Michael School in Loretto.
“I think it’s important in this day and age, in this world we’re living in now, to remind our kids of the importance of staying true to themselves and staying true to what God wants them to do in life,” Monica Klatt added. “I think going to events like these, and going to Catholic school, and getting that instilled in them everywhere really helps so that they’re learning in society what we’re teaching them at home.”
Once again, the highlight of Faith Day was Mass celebrated on the park stage.
Bishop Mark is the usual celebrant, but this year, as he continued to quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19, Father James Puglis, TOR, from the Sacred Heart Province of the Third Order Regular Franciscans in Loretto, graciously filled in for the Bishop.
In his homily, Father Puglis explained that the word “gospel” comes from a Greek word that translates to “good news,” and often when we hear the “good news,” we reject it.
“It limits us, and we just don’t want to hear it,” Father Puglis noted. “The Lord calls to us and tells us to give up everything to follow Him, and He says this out of love for us, not because He wants us to be miserable or limit our freedom. He wants us to be totally and completely in love – in love in the sense of being fulfilled, of having a place in this world that makes sense and not being enslaved by our fears and our anxieties.”
The Lord tells us over and over again that He loves us, and sometimes that love hurts, Father continued.
“Sometimes that love looks like the crucifixion,” he added. “That crucifixion is an expression of our love for each other. If you ever want to know what it looks like to love your neighbor, look at the crucifix.”
Following Mass, faithful were invited to enjoy good food and fellowship at a diocesan picnic at the park.
There were also spiritual activities for children.
“This is really one of things we need in our society – getting together with others in our faith, with others we care about, sharing fellowship and time together,” commented Andre McCarville, Director of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown Family Life Office, which sponsored Faith Day. “I think we’re getting too divided, we’re separating too much from each other. We’re not spending enough time with those we care about, we’re not spending enough time doing what’s really important. We’re doing all the things we think are important, but aren’t going to matter as much in the long run.”
McCarville expressed his delight in the way the day unfolded.
“We had wonderful weather and wonderful families who showed up,” he said. “It has been a whole package deal, and we got to praise God and receive Him in the Eucharist. I don’t think we could have asked for anything more.”
Add in the Free Fall for the Klatt kids, and it, indeed, turned out to be a day of faith, family, and fun for all.
[Photos: (Top) Lew and Monica Klatt and their children (front, left to right) Ella, Makena, and Logan enjoy Faith Day 2022. (First Inset) Father James Puglis, TOR, elevates the Eucharist during Mass at the park. (Second and Third Insets) Faithful participate in Mass.]