Sydney, Oct 3: The Mangalorean Catholic Association of Sydney (MCAS) celebrated the annual Nativity Feast with much solemnity and fanfare recently. This year’s celebrations this year were unique due to the presence and participation by two eminent Mangalorean Catholics, the Bishop of Mangalore Dr Aloysius D'Souza, and Oscar Fernandes MP and General Secretary of the Indian National Congress Party and his family.
This splendid occasion also marked the 5th anniversary of the formation of MCAS and 125 years post centenary silver jubilee of the formation of the Mangalore Diocese. Mangalorean Catholics and friends came in large numbers to participate in this celebration and the well-decorated Bowman Hall at Blacktown was filled to capacity.
Senior minister in the NSW Government Gladys Berejiklian MP, Geoff Lee MP, Member for Parramatta representing the Premier of NSW Barry O'Farrell MP, David Clark, MLC, and Dr Yadu Singh, President of Indian Australian Asscn. of NSW addressed the gathering. Other attendees included Kevin Connolly MP, Matt Kean, MP, Marie Ficarra, MLC, David Elliott, MP, and Ms. Isabelle White, representing Tony Abbott, MP and Leader of the Federal Opposition. This event was also attended by Dr Charles Dias, a visiting Anglo Indian MP from the Indian Parliament. Several other communities and their leaders attended this event. This was truly a high profile celebration to honour and acknowledge the contribution made by the Mangalorean Catholics to Sydney and NSW during the last several decades.
The celebrations started with a short welcoming address by Stanley D'Cruz, MCAS President. He stated that the Nativity Feast binds Mangaloreans Catholics in all parts of the world, and today it was remarkable that two renowned Mangalorean Catholic leaders, Bishop Aloysius D'Souza and Oscar Fernandes were able to celebrate the Nativity Feast and the 5th anniversary of MCAS with our fellow Mangaloreans in Sydney. Holy mass was concelebrated by Bishop Aloysius, Fr Prakash Coutinha, PP of Northcote Parish, Fr Charles Menezes and Fr Alwyn D'Cunha both from the Mangalore Diocese. These were assisted by Deacon Roque Dias and altar servers. The Bishop in his homily requested his faithful to follow and practice Mother Mary's virtues. The mass was complimented by an excellent choir, which sang many Konkani hymns.
After the celebration of mass, the Bishop blessed the traditional 'roce' which contained the new harvest or 'novem'. This roce was partaken by the attendees. Next the beautiful age old tradition of children showering flowers at Mother Mary's statues was performed by the numerous children present. The classical hymn Sakkad Sangatha Melaon and other hymns were rendered during the showering. Mother Mary's statues were decorated with traditional sugar cane, palm leaves and flowers. Table decorations consisted of a bowl of rice and flowers placed on a banana leaf which blended with the Nativity theme.
The official proceedings started with the introduction by the two MCs Freddie Pereira and Anil Rodricks. Music and entertainment was provided by the 'Musicman' Craig Dickinson who enraptured the crowd with his range of music. Stanley D'Cruz officially welcomed all the attendees and particularly thanked the Bishop Aloysius and Oscar Fernandes to celebrate Nativity and 5th anniversary of MCAS, and the 125 years of the Mangalore Diocese. He stated that MCAS has gone a long way in five years and then introduced the current executive committee and requested them to take it to the next level of progress. Official addresses were delivered by Minister Gladys, MPs Geoff Lee and David Clarke. All of them lauded the contribution of Mangalorean Catholics to the multiculturalism of Australia, and to the economic and social contribution to NSW. A short address was also made by the visiting Anglo Indian MP Dr Charles Dias.
Music and entertainment then followed. The other highlight was the maiden presentation of a short Mangalorean folk dance performed by three MCAS couples. This was really captivating and was well choreographed by Joylene and Delcy Moras. A short Konkani skit was then performed, the comedy in this was well presented and was full of fun and laughter.
All attendees were served with an excellent Indian food buffet with the added flavour of Mangalorean cuisine pork and sannas.
The Bishop and Oscar Fernandes were requested by Stanley D'Cruz to assist in the cutting of the MCAS 5th anniversary cake. This was followed by the song 'Congratulations'. Karen Dickinson Gerdak expertly crafted this cake.
The final activity was the felicitation of Bishop Aloysius and Oscar Fernandes. MCAS Vice President Caryl Dickinson read the felicitation and Bishop Aloysius was presented with a plaque and a shawl. This felicitation narrated the Bishop's achievements in his sixteen years as the pastor of his flock in Mangalore. MCAS General Secretary Cyril D’Silva read felicitations to Oscar Fernandes, which narrated his long and illustrious political career of over 30 years. He was presented with a shawl.
The Bishop in his address thanked Stanley D'Cruz and MCAS for making this event and his visit possible and requested the Mangalorean Catholics to strengthen the organization so that the community can progress further. Oscar Fernandes in his address also thanked MCAS for this excellent event and wished the organization more success and growth.
All attendees were in excellent spirits, there was plenty of baila and community dancing, the festive mood was very much evident, and both Joylene and Craig kept the crowd on their feet.
Overall, this year's Nativity Feast was truly historic, outstanding and a high profile one, and we assure you that MCAS will live to this legacy. We thank all MCAS members, their friends, sponsors, donors, artists, volunteers and the executive committee of MCAS who exerted great efforts to make this event an outstanding success. This event was also a fundraiser for the Mangalore Diocese jubilee projects.