Among the flashing lights and noise of carnival games, a smiling picture of Sister Jacqueline Walsh greeted festivalgoers as they entered the parking lot of Our Lady of Mercy Roman Catholic Church in Hicksville.
Beginning on Wednesday, the parish community of Our Lady of Mercy Church dedicated its 5th annual summer fair in remembrance of Walsh’s life and work.
Walsh, 59, who was walking on Rose Hill Road when she was fatally struck in a hit-and-run on July 9, had attended Our Lady of Mercy Academy in her youth and also worked there as a teacher and campus minister after becoming a nun.
“She was so well loved,” said Sister Jeannine Toppin of Hicksville, who was friends with Walsh.
Each year, the parish dedicates its summer fair to members of the community who have died. According to Monsignor Thomas Costa, this year’s fair was the perfect opportunity to pay tribute to Walsh’s work as a valued member of the parish.
“She was very well known here and we were devastated that she was killed,” said Costa, 61, of Levittown.
Parishioners also remembered Walsh as a kind and loving person.
“She affected so many people,” said parishioner Jennifer Leone, 45, of Plainview. “She was vibrant, young at heart.”
The summer fair kicked off on Wednesday and will continue until Sunday night, when attendees will have a chance to win a $5,000 cash prize. Four hundred parish volunteers will be running the five-day festival, which is expected to draw about 13,000 guests throughout the week.
Costa estimates that the fair will raise over $45,000, which will be used for the parish and local food drives.
“It’s a wonderful community of people,” Costa said. “As a priest, it’s a blessing to be here.”