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From the Editor: June 2024

June 2024 cover of The Echo, featuring a statue of Mary that can be found in the Rhoda Wise House grotto

Among the more formative memories from my youth are all the times my family attended the Mt. Carmel church festival in Northern Cambria, Pennsylvania.

My parents grew up in Northern Cambria, and I loved every minute of the time I spent there as a kid, visiting my grandparents. Formerly called “Barnesboro,” Northern Cambria is a small town that once thrived on coal mining—in fact, both of my grandfathers worked in the mines.  

The largest church festival in Northern Cambria—really, the greatest event of the year for the town—was the Mt. Carmel Parish festival. I will never forget the joy of my parents handing my brother and I a couple dollars and setting us loose with our cousins to spend our pocket money on whatever we wanted—funnel cakes, ice cream, raffles, games. Then, we’d go back to one of our grandparents’ houses to watch the church’s spectacular fireworks show, which was always enhanced by the fact that the town is nestled in a valley, causing an echoing effect.

The coal mines have since closed, causing a population decrease in the town, causing Mt. Carmel Church to close its doors. But those festivals made a lasting impact on everyone who attended them. They were so much more than a place to spend money and eat excellent spaghetti—it was a place for Catholics to come together as one family and take pride in what they had built together.

Our parish festival guide was last issue, to accommodate the May festivals, but please don’t forget about them! You can visit the digital listing here, so mark your local festival in your calendar and get ready to gather your friends and family (and kids and grandkids!) to enjoy some local fun.

Along those same lines, included in this issue is a story about local pilgrimage options for your summer vacation, including the National Shrine of Saint Dymphna in Massillon and the Rhoda Wise House in Canton. We also talk about the diocese’s rural ministry program, which is beginning to take root and grow. Finally, we have an infographic explaining the synod, a story on Mercy Health’s free programs for mothers and fathers, and more!

I hope you enjoy this issue, and I wish you and yours a happy, safe and relaxing summer.

Until next time,

Katie Wagner

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Katie Wagner

Katie Wagner is the Editor In Chief of The Catholic Echo magazine and Associate Communications Director for the Diocese of Youngstown. Originally from Indiana, PA, Katie graduated from Mercyhurst University, where she studied Strategic Communication and Voice Performance. She has been working in the communications, marketing and journalism fields ever since, including six years at Mt. Lebanon Municipality, where she served as the Senior Online Editor for Mt. Lebanon Magazine and earned two Golden Quill Awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. Katie cantors at her parish in her spare time, and she also enjoys cooking, traveling and spending time with family and friends.
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