St. Catherine of Alexandria may be the smallest parish in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis...but it just may have the biggest heart.
With a tradition beginning in 2013, the tiny parish of only 28 families comes together to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany and close out the Christmas season with one final holiday party. “An Old Fashion Country Christmas” is one of the year’s most anticipated events at the small rural community tucked away off Highway F.
“This is the sixth year having our 'Old Fashion Christmas and Cinnamon Roll Queen' event,” said Rev. Rickey J. Valleroy. “We always have such a good turnout for such a small parish. I love being the pastor of this church, even though it is so small. They are very faithful and have such spirit.”
Although the highlight of the evening is the naming of the Cinnamon Roll Queen, there is a lot of work that goes into the competition. Several parishioners spend hours preparing rolls made in a variety of different ways from a variety of different recipes, including one that dates back several generations.
As parishioners sample all of the rolls stretched out in front of them, they begin casting their votes for their favorite roll by placing a dollar bill, along with the name of the person with the best rolls, into their favorite's voting jar. The one who generates the most money is named this year’s queen.
According to Valleroy, the competition is tough. Each woman tries her best to make a great roll ... but may even try harder not to win.
“I think this may be the only competition where people try not to be named queen,” Valleroy joked. “I think they actually vote for each other, so they won’t win.”
This year’s Cinnamon Roll Queen is last year’s second place contestant, and placed third two years ago.
Alyssa Trautman blew her competitors away this year with a recipe that dates back to her great-great grandmother’s German recipe.
“We only started making my rolls when I joined the parish,” Trautman said. “Every year, my grandmother comes down and helps me prepare my great-great grandma’s old German recipe.”
Trautman reign as the 2018 Cinnamon Roll Queen was based on an overwhelming success of her rolls which raised $2,005. Coming in second this year was Maggie Kehoe who raised $420 for her rolls and Phyllis Hartupee took the third place trophy for rolls that raised $351.
For Trautman and her husband Alex, Saturday night was made more special with the celebration of her son Andrew being baptized prior to the evening festivities.
“This evening really worked out well for us,” said Alex. “It really has been a special evening for us.”
According to Valleroy, for the last six years, the proceeds raised at the Christmas event have been used to remodel the 125-year-old church.
“We have remodeled everything from the bottom up,” Valleroy said. “The church, the rectory and the hall. All done as result of this event.”
Valleroy added that since 2013, including Saturday evening, the church has raised $39,814.
“It really is a miracle we can stay open with so few people,” Valleroy said. “This is really a true community. They are very faithful to the faith and to their church. Otherwise, this evening could not have happened.”