New Jersey, Sep 14: After 2 years of the pandemic, all were excited to finally meet in-person to celebrate Monthi Fest at St Thomas Syro Malabar Catholic Church in Somerset, New Jersey. It was a perfect day for members from all over the American East Coast to make their drives up and down the coast to the venue. The Eucharistic Mass was a joyous celebration attended by around 175 members (restricted attendance due to the current COVID-19 pandemic). The vado Gurkars/Gurkarns and past presidents led the solemn procession with colorful ‘damaskachi sathri’, followed by the Executive Board with ‘kanshi’ and ‘beautifully decorated palki with baby Mary’, followed by the celebrants, Fr Robert Lasrado, Fr Ron Machado, Fr Augustine D’Souza and Deacon Francis D'Mello. We observed a moment of silence for the victims of 9/11 and the pandemic. After the Mass, they had the procession to Mother Mary’s grotto and offering of flowers by the children to Mother Mary. The melodious choir was led by Vijai Furtado accompanied by Tasha Pais on the keyboard. Video and photography by Christopher Monis.
Following the Mass, President Vanitha Furtado welcomed the MCA-EC family for the grand celebration. The cultural event was compered by the very talented young adult Susanna D’Souza and teen Jadon Pinto who kept the crowd rapt with attention till the end of the event. The sound system was provided by Vijai Furtado and Clayton Monis. The event was hosted in open air next to the church as safety and fun were the highest priorities. The event started with grace by Fr Augustine and a scrumptious traditional Mangalurean vegetarian lunch catered by Sukh Sagar.
Post lunch, they had felicitation of Fr Ron’s and Fr Augustine’s 25 years of service in priesthood, the grand sponsors, and the church trustees. The introduction and felicitation was beautifully led by the regional coordinator, Lavina Aranha. After which, they had the Youth Leadership Programme prize ceremony. Mark Mendonca was felicitated for his leadership and guidance in YLP. Cleon Monis spoke about how the 3 YLP teen leaders, Cleon Monis, Venora Furtado, and Melanie Mendonca organized and led every session. The YLP winners Keith Pais and Carl Furtado spoke about the benefits of YLP and how it transformed them into confident public speakers. The first place, second place, third place engraved plaques were distributed by the executive board to the winners of the 3 categories (Prepared speech, Table topic, Evaluation) and to the 3 YLP teen leaders.
This led into the much-awaited cultural program, the yearly opportunity for MCA-EC members to showcase their skills on the stage. They had teen dance and 2 choirs singing medleys. The jumpy medley got people dancing on the floor. The cultural programme ended with a housie-housie game conducted by Kenneth Monteiro and the crowd participated enthusiastically with an overflow of jokes. The atmosphere was very light and fun. The celebration ended with vote of thanks by vice president, Violet Monis.