Southern Nebraska Register
All are welcome to visit the last “St. James Snack Stand” of the summer at Sacred Heart Church in Crete Sunday, July 30, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The snack stand sells homemade Mexican food to raise funds for the parish elementary school, St. James. Sales take place after the parish’s Sunday Masses in Sacred Heart Church, celebrated at 9 a.m. in English and at 11:30 a.m. in Spanish.
Mayra Mendez and Maria Murillo, mothers of St. James students, cooked up the idea of the St. James Snack Stand to benefit the school.
St. James School, staffed by the School Sisters of Christ the King and lay teachers, has been part of the Crete community for more than 135 years. As is the case at many parochial schools, it’s up to parents to raise extra funds for “extras” like bus rides for field trips, art supplies, and playground equipment such as soccer balls and jump ropes.
“I proposed this idea because I want to help the school somehow,” Murillo explained, “and since I don’t have cash to put on the table, I thought this would be a good way to raise money with everyone’s help.”
What started out as a way to raise extra money for the students of St. James also turned into an event that brought parents of different backgrounds together with the united goal to support their school and teachers.
The school is made up of about 60% Hispanic families. Due to busy schedules, the moms explained, parents don’t always have the chance to meet one another, so the food sales provided an excellent opportunity for the adults to spend time together.
The menu varies each week, but the food is always homemade and inspired by traditional Mexican recipes. Mendez and Murillo led the way, with various other parents helping each week. This summer, they’ve served flautas (rolled tacos), sopes (toppings on a masa or maize base), enchiladas (tortilla around a filling), elote (Mexican street corn), aquas frescas (fresh fruit water), mangonadas (mango sorbet) and flan (custard). The menu has proven popular with crowds from both the English and Spanish-language Masses on Sundays.
Ashley Jones, one of the parents who helped at the food stand, said she enjoyed learning how to make elote by slathering an ear of corn with mayonnaise, chili powder and crumbled cheese.
“I’ve never prepared this dish at home before, but my kids loved it!”
Father Christopher Stoley, pastor of Sacred Heart and chief administrative officer of St. James, called the food stand efforts an example of people practicing good stewardship and taking ownership of the school.
“It is struggling hard financially,” he said, “and the school families who want to see it stay around and succeed, are stepping up to take care of it. It won’t solve the problem completely, but it’ll be a great start!”
Sacred Heart Church will also hold its annual Kermes Hispanic Food Festival Aug. 20, as another opportunity to sample authentic Mexican and Latin American cuisine.