Mangalorean Sydneysiders Celebrate Nativity Feast
Australia: Despite the Covid19 pandemic inflicting lockdown and hard restrictions across Australia, Monti Fest (Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary) was commemorated by the Mangalorean Catholic Association of Sydney (MCAS). The celebration consisted of live-streamed Zoom Mass celebrated by Fr Vincy Decosta OFM, Parish Priest from the Good Shepherd Parish in Plumpton. The altar and the statue of Mother Mary were elegantly decorated and adorned with colourful flowers, adding a festive spectacle and backdrop for the Mass on screen for all to see.
Dignitaries who attended were:
Fr. Valerian DSouza OFM, Parish Priest of Scone Parish
Hon. David Clarke, MLC and Mrs Marisa Clarke,
Hon. Kevin Conolly, MP for Riverstone
Mr Noel D’Souza, Councilor, Randwick LGA
Mr Susai Benjamin, Councilor Blacktown LGA
Stanley D’Cruz, MCAS President gave an opening address greeting and welcoming all attendees and acknowledged the dignitaries present with wishes in Konkani as well. Stanley particularly welcomed Alice Coelho 97, Dr Sumant Moodbidri 90, and Len Fernandes 90, members who support MCAS. Infants Ava D’Souza, Isac Clipsham and Nessa Barboza who were with their mothers were also introduced, and welcoming them as the newest members of MCAS.
Stanley then touched on the love and steadfast affection of Mangalorean Catholics, towards our blessed mother and that that Monti Fest is celebrated by devoted Mangaloreans all over the world.
Stanley described the difficult Covid situation for over 18 months here in Australia and all over the world and that it has caused great loss of life and immense suffering in many ways. He said the MCAS community in Sydney is fortunately protected so far by the grace of God. He also noted the work carried out by MCAS during this pandemic period and that additional services were rendered in 2020. Importantly Stanley informed about the Covid relief fundraising to Mangalore and Udupi dioceses. This fundraising pays 24 students at various levels for two years tuition fees whose breadwinner parent, generally the father had expired due to Covid.
On behalf of the MCAS Committee Stanley thanked all for the support and contributions for this cause. As there is still a great need for support Stanley informed that the fundraising would be kept open until 30 September.
Stanley acknowledged and applauded the hard work and dedication of the MCAS Executive Committee, and that the Covid situation did not dampen their spirits. He then mentioned Savio Monis Vice President, Joylene Moras General Secretary, Rowena Sequeira Social Secretary and members Neha D’Souza, Michael Fernandes, Anil Pinto, Adeep Rego, Nelson D’Souza and Niliya D’Souza.
Fr Vincy commenced the celebration of Holy Mass. In his opening introduction, he thanked MCAS for organizing this Mass in this parish in difficult times, and kindly offered the Good Shepherd Parish Church for future MCAS events. Fr Vincy was supported by Savio Monis and Kate Titterton who arrived at the Church well in advance of the Mass to help set up the technical aspects of the Mass and ensure that the proceedings flowed smoothly and in a well-organized manner.
Providing further vibrancy to the Mass was the beautiful singing and music from the MCAS choir online, led by Joylene Moras and Brendon Moras joined by the melodious voice of 7-year-old Ava Moras.
The first Gospel reading was by 7-year-old Danica Furtado, daughter of Ranjit and Rowena Furtado. This was followed by the responsorial psalms, read by Andrea Pinto 15 and responder Alister Pinto, 12 children of Anil and Renita Pinto. The second reading was by 12-year-old Rachael Rasquinha, daughter of Noel and Reema Rasquinha. All the children recited the readings and the psalms confidently. and the second reading by Rachael Rasquinha who is 12.
Fr Vincy delivered an energetic and enlightening homily. He explained the history of the Nativity of Blessed Mary in Eastern Europe in the 6th century by Orthodox Christians, and the Monti Fest in Monte Mariano, just outside of Mangalore, which commenced in 1763. He also illustrated the importance and devotion of Blessed Mary to all Christians. Fr. Vincy then quoted St. Augustine who said Mary’s birth is like a flower, which spreads aroma throughout the world, and that is the very reason children all over the world shower abundant flowers for Mother Mary. He also said that human suffering has a purpose and that Mary being the mother of Jesus, suffered the most. He concluded by saying that Mother Mary is a vehicle for our eternal salvation
Prayers of the faithful were recited with good synchronization by 13-year-old Emma Pereira and 10-year-old Crystal Pereira, daughters of Clinton and Prima Pereira.
The choir led the attendees in beautiful renditions of further hymns, both in English and Konkani.
At the conclusion of Mass, Rowena Sequeira, Social secretary of MCAS proposed a vote of thanks. Rowena first and foremost thanked all those who attended virtually to participate in the Mass not just from Sydney, but also around from Australia and the world along with dignitaries. She thanked Fr. Vincy for graciously accepting to offer Mass, and for providing the Mangalorean community the opportunity to observe Monti Fest despite the pandemic. Rowena commended all the children who delivered the readings noting that children were selected as readers so they could join in honouring Mother Mary and carry the Monti Fest tradition forward as future members and leaders of MCAS.
Rowena commended the determination of the MCAS Committee in keeping the Monti Fest tradition live so that Holy Mass still could be still in this lockdown period. She thanked the MCAS Committee for their efforts and determination. Rowena particularly Adeep Rego and Neha DSouza for their skills and expertise in moderating the Zoom Mass while ensuring that the proceedings carried on without a hitch. Rowena thanked Savio and Kate for their invaluable assistance in the church, providing support for Fr Vincy and for helping to beautifully decorate the altar and embellish the statue of Mother Mary in the church. She then thanked Joylene Moras and Brendon Moras for their superb singing and music.
Rowena made special mention of an active 90-year-old Mrs Matilda Kamath who attended Mass.
In keeping with the Monti Fest tradition, children were encouraged and requested to shower flowers on Mother Marry’s statues in their own homes. It was a joy to see the screen lit up with so many children showering flowers with their families, while the choir was singing “Sakkad Sangatha Melyan” and “Moriak Hogolshiyam” in the background. It was a remarkable and fitting conclusion to a beautiful virtual gathering of a community devoted to the Blessed Mother.
Overall the MCAS Nativity Feast celebration in Sydney during this lockdown was an outstanding success, and we sincerely thank MCAS members and their friends for their attendance and patronage. We estimate that 400+ attended this service on Zoom, Facebook and live streaming.
We pray that our beloved Mother Mary shower Australia and the world with her blessings and carry us out of this pandemic.