By James Beaty
John Grimm opened the 60th Annual Men’s Holy Week Breakfasts in McAlester with Monday’s gathering at the First Christian Church, where he touched on the significance of the upcoming Easter celebration.
“It doesn’t quite receive the attention that Christmas does,” said Grimm, who noted it’s important too.
“I think it’s enough we begin the Holy Week,” Graham said in his brief opening message.
Grimm, of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, joined a group of 95 men, along with a few teens and boys, for a breakfast of scrambled eggs, biscuits and sausage gravy, with orange juice and coffee provided as drinks.
Looking over the gathering, Bill McMahan, who represented the First Christian Church, said “This is a great thing.” He urged those attending the next breakfast to “bring someone with you.”
The week-long series of breakfasts, leading up to Easter Sunday, has been held for six decades in McAlester. With all men and boys in the area invited to participate, it’s become a community tradition.
Bill Derichsweiler, who said he’s probably attended all of the Holy Week breakfasts, attributed the tradition’s longevity to its religious factor and to Christians getting together.
Each breakfast is set at a different church during the week, with a featured speaker from another church invited to address the group.
“What we need now are young people,” Derichsweiler said after the opening breakfast.
While there are some exceptions, many of the men who cook the breakfasts at several participating churches are in now in their seventies, according to Derichsweiler.
During some of the past breakfasts, fathers who attended would bring their sons with them, he noted.
“That was good,” Derichsweiler said, adding that more fathers who attend the breakfasts need to bring their sons along.
That’s how Lawrence Scarpitti, who is the superintendent at Krebs Public Schools, started attending the Holy Week breakfasts. His father, the late Angelo Scarpitti, first invited him to one of the gatherings.
“My dad got me started about 10 years ago,” said Lawrence Scarpitti, who has since attended the breakfasts every year.
He attributes the breakfasts’ success to “the fellowship among the men and the message by the speaker.”
Tuesday’s Holy Week Breakfast was set for the First United Methodist Church, the new church at the corner of 13th Street and MacArthur Avenue. It’s thought to be the first time one of the Men’s Holy Week breakfasts in McAlester has been held outside the downtown area.
The change resulted from the First United Methodist Church moving from its previous location in a building at the corner of Third Street and Carl Albert Parkway to the new church at 13th and MacArthur.
Steve Woodley was set to serve as church representative for the Tuesday breakfast, with Bob Bahe, of the First Baptist Church, scheduled as featured speaker.
Wednesday’s Holy Week Breakfast is set for 7 a.m. at All Saint’s Episcopal Church at 323 E. Washington Ave., with John Goodyear the church representative and Phillip Stizza, from St. John’s Evangelist Catholic Church, the featured speaker.
Contact James Beaty at email@example.com.
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