Anyone who meets longtime St. Anthony Park resident Mary (Margaret Morris) Mergenthal finds out pretty quickly that she’s Welsh, and if you have known her for some length of time, you know that she is deeply involved in the Welsh community, both in the U.S. and in Wales.
In August, Mergenthal’s many contributions to preserving Welsh heritage will be recognized when she receives the National Welsh American Foundation’s highest honor, the NWAF Heritage Medallion. The award will be presented at the North American Festival of Wales, Aug. 28-31, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis.
Mergenthal’s work includes directing gymanfaoedd ganu (hours- long hymn sings) in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Kansas, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington state; serving as a board member and president of both the Minnesota Welsh Association and St. David’s Society of Minnesota; and co- chairing the North American Festival of Wales, this year (with Kay Gavin) and in 1999. In addition, she was editor and owner of the Welsh paper Y Drych for 12 years and still contributes to the paper’s successor, Ninnau.
Mary Mergenthal’s passion for all things Welsh will be honored this summer. Photo by Paula Carter
Mergenthal’s father, Griff Morris, immigrated to Minnesota from Wales in 1910, and he passed on his love of all things Welsh to his daughter. She learned Welsh words and the alto parts to Welsh hymns by attending gymanfaoedd ganu with her grandmother in Mankato.
After graduating from St. Olaf College in Northfield, she met her husband, Jennings, and they had two daughters. They moved to St. Anthony Park where she has conducted children’s choirs at St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church. Mergenthal also was the editor of the
Park Bugle for six years in the 1980s and still serves as the editor of the Lives Lived memorial section of the paper.
Nearly 500 people from all over the world are expected to attend the Welsh festival in August. Highlights will include musical concerts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday; a poetry and music competition called the Eisteddfod (which also includes a concert Saturday); seminars and Welsh movies; a banquet on Friday and dinners on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday; and a concluding bilingual church service and the 83rd National Gymanfa Ganu at Westminster Presbyterian Church across from the Hyatt Regency on Sunday. A Welsh marketplace and tearoom will be open every day, and each evening will end with the singing of Welsh hymns and old favorites.
You can purchase tickets for each day of the festival and for the dinner and concerts and find the rules and applications for the competitions online at www.nafow.org. In addition, Mergenthal has tickets for Only Men Aloud, an eight-man a cappella group, which will perform at the Grand Concert on Saturday night. To purchase those tickets, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.