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Flag bearers during the procession from the Memorial Park to St. Mark’s Cathedral: Princess Ladra (Philippine Flag),

Thirdy Ladra (Port Pirie Sinulog) and Ember Corpuz-Wallace (Australian Flag) (Photo Courtesy of Boots Ladra)


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Committee Members Arnold Castro and Jun Ladra proudly carrying the image of Santo Nino out of St. Mark’s Cathedral.

(Photo Courtesy of boots ladra)



by Father Francis Montero,
Diocese of Port Pirie S.A.
This is the theme of this year’s Santo Nino Fiesta in Port Pirie, South Australia. I spired by the latest Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of Gospel), the Fiesta Committee desired to focus on the devotion to the Holy Child. The first line of the Papal documents starts with a very inspiring statement. “The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.” (No. 1)

The Masses and Home Novenas that lead up to the Fiesta were fitting preparations. Each day a quote from Pope Francis was read and either Fr Jimmy Pantin, Fr Francis Montero, Seminarians Harold Camonias and Ramel Morales gave a reflection on that. It is very clear that the Eucharist, traditional novena prayers and the inspiring words of Pope Francis prepared the hearts and minds of the local community in Port Pirie. True joy comes from the encounter with Jesus. And for the local community, this encounter with Jesus is through the Holy Child whose virtues of holiness, simplicity, obedience and humility are endeavoured to be lived. Challenging words were exchanged but more challenging is the living of the values of the Santo Nino. After the novena prayers, the usual “salo-salo” or fellowship followed which strengthened the bonds of friendship and community. The praise and worship song “10,000 Reason (Bless the Lord)” by Matt Redman became a favourite of all, expressing everyone’s desire to put Jesus at the centre. And even days after the Fiesta, this song kept ringing into the heads of those who journeyed through the daily novena.

A small group of less than 50 involved and committed Filipinos in Port Pirie welcomed 600 pilgrims to experience a day of praise, worship and celebration. They came all the way from different parts of South Australia and even NSW and Victoria, Adelaide and the surrounding suburbs, Balaklava, Clare Valley, Snowtown, Blyth, Port Wakefield, Crystal Brook, Port Augusta, Port Lincoln, Whyalla, Moonta and Renmark. The Procession that concluded with the praying the Holy Rosary was very inspiring. Praise and Worship led by Fr Francis Montero and Fr Jimmy Pantin with the music provided by the Couples for Christ all the way from Adelaide with their band instruments followed. Also supporting the Praise and Worship were members of the El Shaddai Community. Worship songs lifted the voices and hearts of all who filled the Cathedral to capacity. Hands were raised in adoration and claps were heard to express joy in the presence of the Lord. A grace-filled moment indeed!

The Eucharist was the pinnacle of the celebration. The Bishop, the good shepherd of the Diocese, presided. The choir led the singing. The entrance hymn, Purihin ang Panginoon, was hit considering all members of the Cathedral choir were non-Filipino speakers. The Bishop’s homily was affirming and challenging. Children were given the -“centre stage” – they offered lighted battery-operated tea lights and when they reached the sanctuary, the Bishop took time blessing them. After the Our Father which was sung in Filipino, the children were once again invited to gather around the altar for the prayer of peace. The Bishop addressed the children that they were bearers of peace. The bishop sent them back to share that peace to their families. This scene was very touching indeed. At the end of the Mass the children were once again invited to approach the Bishop for the prayer blessing and they were sprinkled with Baptismal Water. People and statues were sprinkled, too, as the ministers were on the way out. Next stop, the Samaritan Hall for the Fellowship and Cultural Presentation.

The Samaritan Hall at St Mark’s College served as a wonderful venue for the Fellowship and Cultural Presentation, thanks to the school’s administration. Fiesta Chairperson Mr. Michael Cruz delivered the welcome message. Inspiring messages from Bishop Greg O’Kelly, State MP Geoff Brock and Honorary Philippine Consul for SA Dr Reynaldo Dante Juanta were given. Worth mentioning that Dr. Juanta came on behalf of Philippine Ambassador Belen Anota. Mayor Brenton Vanstone was unable to join this year because he had to attend to the Bangor Bushfire which at that moment was posing danger to lives and property in the area. State MP Liberal Candidate Kendall Jackson also graced the event.

Food and drinks were overflowing. Kudos to the Food committee. The fiesta committee was definitely thankful, too, to the performers. The performances gave colour to the afternoon event: Sinulog Dancers of Santo Niño de Filipinas, Adelaide; Acapella singing by the Riverland Filipino Community; “The Fox” (Modern Dance) rendered by the Port Pirie Kids; a Modern Dance by Circle of Friends, Adelaide; “Leron, Leron Sinta” a dance number from Santo Niño de Filipinas, Adelaide. The finale was the “Carinosa” of the Santo Nino Fiesta 2014 Committee Members. To end the show, there was the production number by members of the Filipino community of Port Pirie representing the three major group of islands of the Philippines – Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao. Boots Ladra choreographed most of the performances. A big thank you goes to Bob Ward, Lynette Clyde, Lenny Halfacre, Margaret Langston, Maryanne Saracino and Emil Pellegrini whose valuable help made the Fiesta a truly celebration of Gospel Joy. 


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