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One Family Gala, St. Paul, Reading

February 23, 2020 @ 12:00 pm

St. Paul Church, Reading will hold its Fourth Annual One Family Gala on Sunday, Feb. 23 at the Inn at Reading, 1040 Park Road, Reading. The evening will begin with a cash bar at 5 p.m., followed by dinner at 6 p.m.

The focus of this year’s annual event is the 125th anniversary of Gethsemane Cemetery, founded by Monsignor George Bornemann in 1895.  This observance will feature a display of photos and information about notable people interred or entombed in the cemetery over the past 125 years.

Among the most recognizable names in the cemetery: Michael O’Pake, a popular long-time Pennsylvania state senator; Joe Toye, a Marine belonging to the “Band of Brothers” of World War II heroism; George “Whitey” Kurowski, a World Series hero while playing for the St. Louis Cardinals; and Lindy Vacari, race car driver.

Also: Manford O. Lee, founder of Lee Jeans; Albert Paris, the flamboyant, affable traffic police officer who appeared on “Candid Camera” on March 11, 1962; Emidio Vagnoni, a country music songwriter and singer known as “Shorty Long”; and Byron Vazakas, a poet nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1947.

Some of the features of the cemetery include a special section for infants and fetuses, a section for green burials and a veteran section being developed (making available to families a local place honoring veterans, instead of having to travel to Indiantown Gap).

There are two mausoleum facilities, each with a chapel, and indoor and outdoor columbarium niches.

Featured speaker for this year’s gala will be Father Thomas Bortz, pastor of St. Ignatius Loyola, Sinking Spring and vicar forane of the Berks County Deanery.

His mother, Janet Bortz (nee Borst), grew up in St. Paul Parish, where she married Ronald Bortz, her spouse of 62 years.  Also, he was a Reading Central Catholic High School classmate of two members of Gethsemane’s Board of Directors, James Didyoung and Matthew Lloyd, who is board president.

Before entering the seminary, Father Bortz was employed for 21 years by the state Bureau of Parks as an environmental technician and was owner/operator of a screen printing business for 17 years. He was ordained a priest in June 2004, a month before his 46th birthday.

He continues the tradition of distinguished featured speakers at past galas: Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, George Meiser IX, and Bishop Alfred Schlert.

He will be speaking about the cemetery, his mother’s roots in St. Paul Parish and the evolution of the parish from a vibrant German-speaking parish to an English, Vietnamese and Spanish trilingual parish.

Each year’s gala is an opportunity to present an award for contributions to church and community. Past recipients of the award were Dr. Richard Flannery, the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and local EMS personnel.

This year’s recipient of St. Paul’s One Family Award will be representatives of the three language groups at St. Paul: English with German roots, Vietnamese and Spanish. Honorees will be William Borst and Barry Sweigart (posthumous), Mr. and Mrs. Mai Van Thuc and Mr. and Mrs. Nguyen Dinh Thu, and Domingo Tejada (posthumous) and Deacon Francisco Najera.

For more information, contact Monsignor John Grabish at 610-372-1531 or jjg239@gmail.com.


February 23, 2020
12:00 pm


Inn at Reading, 1040 Park Road, Reading
1040 Park Road
Reading, PA 19610 United States
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