Celebration to include praise and worship, 'King Cake' tradition with potluck dinner

DETROIT — It's not exactly the French Quarter, but Detroit knows how to celebrate Mardi Gras. 

From Bavarian creme to strawberry to Coney-inspired doughnut creations, Detroiters will be flocking to the bakeries today to grab their paczki while they can.

Afterward, the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament hopes to entice Catholics and others to work off those calories by ending Ordinary Time in an extraordinary way. 

After getting one’s fill of paczki, Detroit parishioners have the opportunity to kick off Lent by heading to the cathedral for some praise and worship.

On the night before Lent begins, the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament is hosting a Mardi Gras Revival!, a combination of kerygmatic preaching and a celebration of African-American Catholic culture.

The cathedral parish is hosting a potluck supper at 5:30 p.m., inviting all to bring a dish to share, followed by Gospel preaching from cathedral rector Fr. J.J. Mech, and Gospel music at 7 p.m.

“The tradition of celebrating Mardi Gras is kind of a big deal in the city,” said Christine Broses, worship coordinator and pastoral associate at the cathedral. “So we’re going to have a big potluck with ‘King Cake,’ and then after that, we’re going to the church for praise and worship music for a spiritual revival before Lent begins.”

The tradition of "King Cake" is a Mardi Gras staple, especially in the South; in some traditions, the cake is baked with a figurine of the baby Jesus in the center, and the person who finds the figurine is crowned "king" for the day's celebrations. 

The evening revival will consists of readings from the Scriptures and a reflection on what it means to celebrate Christ’s resurrection and how to best prepare for the Lenten season.

Broses said the parish used to have a big Mardi Gras celebration, but this is the first time in a while parish is celebrating Fat Tuesday.

“A lot of our parishioners come from down South, where they have a history of celebrating Mardi Gras,” Broses said. “Our parish has a history of doing an Ash Wednesday Vigil Mass after a potluck, but with everyone eating beforehand, we thought a praise and worship event would be a better idea.”

The Fat Tuesday event will feature the cathedral’s choir, directed by Joe Balistreri, archdiocesan director of music, and the choir from the cathedral’s cluster partner, St. Moses the Black Parish on Oakland Avenue.

“This is a chance to honor a tradition that means something to parishioners, while getting ourselves ready for Lent at the same time,” Broses said. “Mardi Gras is the last big celebration before we begin Lent, a great time to give praise to God and ask for His blessing and strength as we begin to fast for Lent.”