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Single parishioners 50+ find home at Texarkana parish

Single, widowed and divorced members of St. Edward Church gather for food, friends

Published: October 20, 2014   
Fran Presley
A potluck with good food is always an important part of St. Edward’s Over-50 Singles Group in Texarkana. Sometimes even married couples show up.

TEXARKANA — About eight years ago, St. Edward Church’s business manager Janet Daddato noticed several people at loose ends after they had lost their spouses.

Daddato herself had lost her husband a couple of years earlier.

“We thought it would be a good idea to invite those living alone to get together and eat a meal together,” she said. 

She sent out invitations by postcard, and the idea took off from the start.

“I like it because you find encouragement here. We are all in the same situation. You feel comfortable, at ease, and you don’t feel left out.” Victoria Shelton, St. Edward Church, Texarkana

Nowadays, instead of postcards, Daddato posts an invitation in St. Edward’s newsletter: “Single (or widow, widower, divorced) and over 50? Maybe you’re just tired of going home and eating alone. Then come join us for potluck at St. Ed’s ... “

The group calls itself the Over-50s Singles Group, and they meet once a month in the parish hall. They have so much fun that even married couples show up from time to time.

Daddato said, laughing, “We don’t discriminate.”

Ellen Unger, director of the Outreach Center, and her husband Steve often attend.

“It’s a fun group. They like to socialize,” Ellen Unger said.

The Ungers appreciate the fact that if there is food left over, it is donated to the Outreach Center.

After a meal — the church furnishes the meat — the group settles down to a card game called “31.”

Mike Naples said of the congenial group, “I just love it. I go as much as I can — normally to every meeting. It’s good to get out and socialize. However, I really miss Deacon Joe (Bruick) and Calvin Cigainero, who used to come.”

Participant Delores Sax recalled that when Cigainero died, his family members showed up at the next over-50s meeting, explaining, “We just had to come see what goes on in the group Calvin enjoyed so much.”

Members mention different reasons for enjoying the unique group. Sax said she enjoys the group because “we come in whatever we have on; it  doesn’t matter.” Barbara Schlonga said, “We have fun, and there are not a lot of places where single women can go.”

Victoria Shelton added, “I like it because you find encouragement here. We are all in the same situation. You feel comfortable, at ease, and you don’t feel left out. There is no pressure; we are just friends. And the food is unbelievable.”

Theresa Culling also mentioned the food, adding, “I visit with old friends and meet new ones. And it gives me an opportunity to play cards, something I enjoy.”

Annette McCandless, who started attending the group this year, said, “I have come about six times now. We get to sit here and visit and I don’t have to be home alone. This is my family, too. I even play ‘31’ with them.”

Another regular, pastor Father Paul Francis Worm, joked, “I have yet to play ‘31’ with them, but I’ve always chided them not to fight or end up in a shoot-out.” He added, “At first I was an honored guest as I was only 49. But Deacon Joe Bruick and Janet Daddato invited me and I began joining them for dinner. Over the years I have turned 50, 51, 52 and now 53. The group has changed a bit, grown smaller as some regulars have gone ahead of us into eternal life, like our beloved Deacon Joe. In short, our Over-50s Group has evolved into Catholic friends spending some time together, getting older and helping each other along ‘The Way.’”

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