29 January 2015 - The Philippine Consulate General in Sydney joined the Filipino community in three events marking the joyous and colorful celebration of the Feast of Sto. Nino in New South Wales (NSW), Australia.
On January 18, Philippine Consul Marford Angeles, Cultural Officer Rachel Calisin and Consular Assistant Fidel Simeon attended the mass celebrated by Fr. Michael Healy at the St. John the Evangelist Church in Campbelltown City, 50 kilometers southwest of Sydney. In his homily, Fr. Healy gave an account of how the image of the Sto. Niño came to Cebu. The Australian officials who attended the mass included Federal Member of Parliament Laurie Ferguson, who came with his wife Maureen, State Member of Parliament Bryan Doyle, and Campbelltown City Mayor Paul Lake and Camden Councillor Greg Warren. The mass was followed by a fellowship lunch at the nearby community hall and a program featuring cultural performances in honor of the Holy Infant Jesus accompanied by chants of “Viva Pit Señor!”
On the same day, Consul Angeles and Ms. Calisin joined the concelebrated mass led by Monsignor John Boyle and nine other priests at the Good Sheperd Parish in Plumpton, New South Wales. Located in the heart of Blacktown City where majority of Filipinos in Australia reside, the church was overflowing with Filipino-Australian parishioners and their families. Also present were Blacktown City Councillors Charlie Lowles and Ed Atalla and Penrith City Councillor Prue Car. The mass was concelebrated by Fr. Gerard O’Dempsey, Fr. Ruben Elago, Fr. Reggie Lavilla, Fr. John Paul Escarlan, Fr. Larry Tolentino, Fr. Vincy Da Costa, Fr. Dado Haber, Fr. Bong Pamintuan, Fr. Ning Barawid, Fr. Walter Fogarty, Fr. Renato Paras, and Fr. Lito Layag. After the mass, a procession of the image of the Sto. Nino and a program with lively performances were held.
Consul Angeles congratulated Ms. Mariez Zawadka, coordinator of the Sto Niño Association of Campbelltown and Macarthur Region, and Ms. Mila Alforque of the Cofradia del Sto. Niño for their efforts to observe and preserve Philippine religious traditions even as they have settled in Australia.
In his message before both congregations, Consul Angeles noted the recent visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Philippines and the Pope’s message of hope and love. Consul Angeles said that in preaching the message of hope and love, Pope Francis also cited ensuring social justice as a Christian duty. In this regard, Consul Angeles said that one of the means by which Filipinos can fulfil this is through continued participation in the Philippine electoral process and exercise of their right to vote.
On January 25, Administrative Officer Jose Jacinto Morales, Assistance-to-Nationals (ATN) Officer Erlinda Albay, Consular Assistants Filipina Galicia and Elpidio Raiz and Cultural Officer Rachel Calisin attended a thanksgiving mass at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Bathurst, 200 kilometers from Sydney Central Business District. The mass was organized by the Filipiniana Friends Group Bathurst and Central West led by its President, Ms. Nenita Weekes, and was followed by a program where Mr. Morales informed the Filipinos present of the consular services, dual citizenship process and overseas voters registration conducted by the Consulate. NSW Minister for Local Government Paul Toole and his family attended the program. END