Catholic mass canceled at NY State Fair noted as a ‘hiccup’ – but now it returns

Catholic mass was canceled at the NY State fair and shall return. The New York State Fair will be returning the traditional Roman Catholic Mass after what the fair’s interim director admitted was a “hiccup” that led to its previous cancellation. For nearly 50 years, the Mass has been held each Sunday during the fair. But after the parish that holds it was told by a fair official earlier in the year that it “could not be accommodated,” the Mass did not happen.

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Rev. Joseph Clemente at St. Marianne Cope Church in Solvay was reached out by interim 2022 Fair Director Sean Hennessey when that situation came to his attention. “I asked if he would come and have the Mass here on Sunday and he said yes. He was very gracious about the whole thing,” said Hennessey. Saying he and Hennessey had “a very good discussion. We have an understanding for the future,” Clemente agreed.

As it has for at least the last seven years, the Mass will be held at the Empire Theater in the Art & Home Center at the fairgrounds. It was held for several decades from the stage at Chevy Court before that, according to Syracuse news.

September 4 at 9 a.m. Sunday is the beginning of the Mass. Primarily, it is oriented to fair workers and vendors and others who live on the fairgrounds during the run, although anyone can attend. “It is open to all,” said Clemente.

There was no deliberate intent to cancel the Mass, Hennessey said. He pointed to the issues involved instead, in coming back from the Covid pandemic and the change in fair administration. After former fair director, Troy Waffner was reassigned to a different job in May, Hennessey, a long-time state government manager, was named interim fair director. “With everything that’s been happening, there are a few things that are missing this year. We’re doing our best to get everything right,” said Hennessey.

Clemente said that the tradition of a Catholic Mass at the fairgrounds dates back at least 49 years, and maybe longer. The parish which was then known as Our Lady of Peace in Lakeland is the group that started it all. In 2019, that parish merged with St. Cecilia’s in Solvay to form the new parish called St. Marianne Cope. Ever since, the Mass has been sponsored by St. Marianne Cope, at 105 Stanton Ave. Solvay.

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The invitation for the church was extended by Hennessey, as he says, to resume its Masses in future years. The fair would make sure to extend similar invitations to other faith groups, Hennessey said also. “We want the fair to be open to everyone, all religions, all beliefs and lifestyles. We want to be, and will be, accommodating to all,” said Hennessey.

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