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Br. Mark Ligett, OFM, and Beth Grys, the evening’s honoree. Photos by Sr. Eileen Connelly, OSU

Samples of tasty treats from a variety of local eateries, live music, good company and welcoming friars. This all set the scene at the seventh annual Friars’ Bistro, held Oct. 5 at St. Francis Retreat House (SFRH) in Easton, Pennsylvania.

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Henry Beck chats with SFRH Board President Shirley Puccino and her husband, Steve.

The gathering is an opportunity to celebrate the dedicated benefactors, volunteers and staff of SFRH, who continue to make the retreat house a place of hope and peace for the groups and individuals who meet and visit there, said Anne Houston, director of marketing and development. It’s a casual, relaxed evening with reasonable ticket prices, she noted, keeping with the growing shift away from pricey and formal fundraising events. Because the restaurants donate all of the food and the Bistro is held on site at the retreat house, expenses are kept to a minimum. Just a few days prior to the Bistro, Anne shared that 125 tickets had been sold. The fun-filled and meaningful evening features a wine pull, along with the chance to honor a special guest.

“It’s a good time for everyone that attends,” Anne said.

As this year’s Bistro began, the friars who serve at the SFRH – Mark Ligett, Henry Beck, Loren Connell, Scott Obrecht and Ed Skutka – were on hand to welcome guests, who enjoyed samples from many of the same restaurants, bakeries and wineries that participate in the Bistro every year. The delicious food and beverages were accompanied by music provided by Island Time, a popular local band. Those in attendance also enjoyed a moving performance of the Prayer of St. Francis by the Tone Chime Choir from Mercy School for Special Learning in Allentown.

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Frank Kelly, left, a volunteer at the retreat house, and Scott Obrecht

The Bistro’s 2022 honoree was Beth Grys, principal of Mercy School since 2016. “Thank you to everyone for coming. We’re so grateful you’re here,” said Mark as he prepared to present the award – a San Damiano cross – to Beth. “We have the joy of welcoming in a special way a very special person – Beth.”

“I’m very humbled to receive this award,” Beth said, noting that Mercy School and SFRH are “both places where Christ’s light shines brightly.”

“The Bistro went very well,” said Scott, who assists with fundraising, development and marketing efforts as part of his ministry at SFRH. “The weather was great, cool, but not so cold that you had to wear a jacket. It was well attended, delicious food and everyone seemed to have a great time. I thought the performance by the Tone Chime Choir was very touching.”

“It was another great Bistro event,” added Anne. “There was plenty of delicious food and we were happy to see some new faces.”

Shirley and Steve Puccino, OSF, who were among the Bistro attendees, shared their thanks for the friars’ ministry and enthusiasm for the event. “There are so many activities here and all are welcome,” said Shirley, president of the SFRH board of directors. “The Bistro is a wonderful way to celebrate the retreat house, gather with people we know, meet new friends and build community.”

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The Tone Chime Choir from Mercy School for Special Learning in Allentown.