Coastal parishes unite in joy-filled celebration
Last Sunday at St Joseph’s in Merimbula, there was a celebration to remember.
The stunning choral sound of Samoan and local Filipino choirs announced the entrance procession as Australian, Australian Aboriginal, Torres Strait Island and Samoan flags were carried into the church.
The Mass began with the ringing of a giant conch shell, and the sound of it reverberated around the church, calling the parishioners to unite for a very special ceremony.
Fr Paul Nulley concelebrated the special Mass with Fr Pale Leota, who had his Samoan family, now living in Melbourne, up to visit.
The Mass was awash with traditional Samoan dress, language and culture, which delivered so much joy to the congregation, spilling out to festivities after Mass on the church grounds.
There were two giant spit-roasted pigs, endless flowers and decorations, a traditional dance from the Filipino and Samoan communities, and some dance and songs from Fr Pale himself.
So much work and collaboration went into making the day possible: from the Parish Pastoral Committee and Liturgy Committee to the parish musicians, the Filipino and Samoan communities, Fr Pale, and Lumen Christi Catholic College in Pambula Beach.
Lumen Christi Assistant Principal David Crawford was the MC for the Mass and the celebrations afterwards. Both were live-streamed for parishioners who could not attend due to sickness or distance; Fr Pale did not want anyone to miss out.
Adding to all this cheer were two littlies receiving sacraments; one his first Holy Communion, and the other, a baby girl presented for Baptism.
It is a rarity for all the parishes in the southern part of the diocese to unite, and participants remarked on how wonderful it was to connect to others from Eden, Pambula, Merimbula, Bega and surrounding areas.
Everyone greatly appreciated Fr Pale’s work in making opportunities and celebrations possible for the parishes, uniting everyone to share and celebrate our multicultural community and faith.
Grace O’Connor, a very enthusiastic 7-year-old, was bubbling with glee all morning.
“I just feel so welcomed; everyone wanted to meet me,” she said. “Everyone was so happy to see each other!”
It was truly a mass and party to remember.