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One saint, One faith, One celebration…

A multicultural thanksgiving celebration for the Canonization of San Pedro Calungsod at St Therese Parish, Kennington, Australia

A week after the canonization of San Pedro Calungsod with six other new saints by Pope Benedict XVI, the Filipino faithful in Bendigo area celebrated the thanksgiving mass in honour of this newest Filipino canonized saint.

The celebration commenced with a very multicultural celebration of the Mass at 10.30 in the morning. The mass was attended by so many Parishioners of St Therese, by our Australian friends, Sri Lankan community, Karen group, and Filipino friends from Bendigo and surrounding districts. Our Filipino friends from Pyramid Hill, Melbourne and Cranbourne (the Cebuano Association of Australia) also graced the occasion. Adding to the number Filipinos present in the celebration were the Filipinos from Mindanao who are currently studying the Australia as sponsored by the AusAid.

The Karen group sang the Karen version of the gospel ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of God’. The Sri Lankan group was represented by the Singhalese version in one of the prayers of the faithful. The other prayers of the faithful were also prayed in Karen, in Filipino- Cebuano (Cebu) and Chavacano (Zamboanga) and in English respectively. The music in the liturgy which are mostly if not all composed by Filipino singers and writers, were sung beautifully and solemnly by The  Filipino Choir (TFC) headed by Mr Arnel Aquino. I was almost to the brink of shedding a tear when two young Filipinos sung the Responsorial Psalm ‘Ang Panginoon ang aking pastol’ or ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ in such a melodic voice and harmony. Adding to the solemnity of the mass was the presence of some Filipino seminarians from Melbourne (thanks a lot Junray, John, Novie, Kaiser and Rey) who shared their skills generously in serving at Mass with a couple of regular altar servers (Blaise and Gerard). Thanks mates for sharing your talents and energy in the preparation as well.

The next big thing to the Eucharistic celebration was the party afterwards with Don and Tita Jo as the Emcees. The rendition of children’ ensemble trained by Mrs Liesbeth Vannemerick was an amazing part of the celebration to represent the Australian culture. The singing of Karen group and the Sri Lankan choir also added more colour into the multicultural theme of the occasion. There was also presentation of Filipino folk dances (Tinikling, Binasuan, and Sinulog) that gave some of our Australian friends a glimpse of Filipino culture. There was also modern dance, games that involved children and adults alike (organized by Adi) which had definitely made everyone more involved and had more fun.

The abundant, sumptuous and delicious food contributed by Pinoys and Aussies alike was enjoyed by everyone there present. Thanks to all who brought a plate and shared your food with us. Adding more colour to the party and to the table were the lechon (pigs on the spit) (first) courtesy of  Cebuano Association of Australia, prepared by Mr Alex Sy and (second) courtesy of the Fernandez’ family in Pyramid Hill, prepared by Tita Evelyn and Tito Victor of Kangaroo flat.

However, it wasn’t all just fun and food. Another highlight of the event was the raffle draw. The  proceeds of which is to be used to transport (via LBC) the many donation of goods by so many generous parishioners and friends in Australia, for some families in Cebu, Philippines. It’s good to see some people going home with some winnings while at the same time sharing their resources to some people in the Philippines.

The finale of the program summed it all, when children came out bearing the letters ‘W-E- A-R-E-  T-H-E- W-O-R-L-D as few select singers sung the song ‘We are the world’ while at the same time prompting everyone there to gather towards the performing area and joined in the singing, as photos were being taken.

All credits and thanks from the bottom of my heart to Fr Andrew Fewings (for making the parish available for the occasion), Arnel-Gina Aguino (for the beautiful music and singing and overall organization) & Don- Bebie Ilagan (for organizing the program and logistics), Malay Verano & Will Ross (for the substantial financial assistance), Angela Stark (for the raffle and fundraising), Liesbeth Vannemerick (for the video and photos), the many Filipinos who have shared their time, talents and treasures. Definitely with your care, help and support our celebration was meaningful, more solemn and a very successful one. Kudos and more power.

For all who have shared their time, talents and treasures with us to celebrate the Canonization of our dear Filipino friend and intercessor in heaven, San Pedro Calungsod, MANY, MANY, MANY THANKS…

May God through the intercession of San Pedro Calungsod, bless you all in all that you do and in all that you are.


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