Kristen Field’s experience at St. Michael’s has always been about family, and the church community is like her family, too.
Field, a member of St. Michael the Archangel Church in Providence, is one of the key organizers of the annual St. Patrick’s Day event at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet in Cranston. She has served as one of the hosts and organizers for the past 20 years, and this year will mark the party’s 21st year. She noted that she and her family have helped with the festivities throughout the years and have been involved with the church since they were young.
“My kids have been helping me since they were little,” Field said. “They used to take the day out of school to come help me decorate, and to set up the kids’ activities. My kids have been part of St. Michael’s since they were born.”
Her experience at St. Michael’s has been a family affair. Her cousin, Raymond, was the pastor at the church for 30 years, and she said that her family has belonged to the church since they were children.
“It’s kind of like a full circle going around,” she said.
Field said the event is like “the heart of [her] family.” She said her mother, her aunt, her grandmother and grandfather all grew up in St. Michael’s and the surrounding area. She also explained how even though her mother and aunt moved to a different church when they were young, they were still involved with the St. Michael’s parish. Her aunts, uncles, and cousins were at the church as well, and Raymond was part of the last graduating class at St. Michael’s. She spoke highly of Raymond’s masses when he was the pastor, saying that her and her family always left mass learning something.
“I ended up getting married there and my kids were baptized there,” she said. “They made their first communion there. It’s just been part of our lives.”
Field said that they have always been involved with helping the community and those in need.
“It’s something my kids grew up with, I grew up with it, and it’s just who we are,” she said.
The St. Patrick’s Day event supports the St. Michael’s food bank, helps with bills for rent and utilities, and provides for “any other significant community issues that St. Michael’s can help with,” according to Field.
The benefit has been happening every year for the past 20 years, right on March 17. Prior to it being such a large event, it started as a small idea and took place at a hall on Sandy Lane in Warwick, according to Field. The plan was to benefit the community then, and it still is the plan today. At the time, they had to compete with Rocky Point’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities, she said, but now it is the “biggest St. Patrick’s Day party in the state.” She said that they have 2,000 to 3,000 people attending throughout the night.
In the last few years, they have dedicated the event to someone in the church community. One year, she said, it was dedicated to Sister Ann, a dedicated member of the St. Michael’s community who had passed away. Last year, it was dedicated to Jim Sullivan, who “basically co-started” the event, according to Field.
When asked what she thinks the impact on the community is, Field said that it is an event where “all communities come together to volunteer,” whether it be selling raffle tickets or helping with decorations. She said everyone is or tries to be involved with the event and when everyone is involved it leaves an impact.
“You learn from it, and you all learn to work together as a team to help your community,” she said. “It does affect everybody.”
Field also recruits student volunteers for the event, because most high school students need community service hours. She is the school nurse at Cranston High School East, so she spreads the word at the school when it comes time for the event. This year, she did something different by contacting the Catholic high schools – La Salle, Bay View and Bishop Hendrickson. They have also asked confirmation students at St. Michael’s to volunteer.
Tickets for the event cost $12 per adult and can be purchased at the door. There is no cost for children under 12.
There will be entertainment such as bands and bagpipes, kids’ activities and food. Bands performing include the John Connors Band and the Irish Express, along with Irish step dancers and more.