Melbourne Bishop Vincent Long appealed to the Filipino Catholic faithful to accept the Kingdom of God like a child by abandoning the illusive search for earthly things like status, honour, prestige, power and glory. “In the child’s world, there is only one thing that matters: love given and shared; love in its innocence and simplicity; love that knows no boundaries and no limits,” he said.
The mass held last 19 January 2014 at St Andrew’s Church in Clayton marked the feast of the Sto. Niño which was also celebrated by Filipinos no only in Australia but in the Philippines and other countries as well. In the same homily, Bishop Long said true Christian discipleship means learning to be a servant to all. “Accepting the kingdom like a child is to strip ourselves naked before God, to acknowledge our total dependence on Him, to live in vulnerability and yet in complete freedom.”
He stressed that the challenge is not anymore from outside but it is now within one’s self. He particularly mentioned the young Catholics who are now questioning and even giving up their faith. “Perhaps, what we need to reflect today is not so much on the public expressions like festivals, the parades and processions. In a new and inhospitable environment, we need to solidify and deepen our faith.”
During the mass, petitions by children and youth delved on children of broken homes who suffer due to neglectful and uncaring parents. “May adults take their responsibility towards them seriously, love and care for them and show them the beauty of life,” a young petitioner read. For adults, the youth also prayed that they will never lose the spirit of a child by living with one another in friendship, freedom and openness. The family petition, on the other hand, calls for the promotion of family and marriage so that children will group up in a healthy, happy and religious environment.
Hundreds of Sto. Niño devotees gathered in the mass, bringing with them images of the Holy Child which was blessed by Bishop Long. He also requested the children present during the mass to come forward and blessed them.
A program and lunch were held at the nearby Namatjira Park. Emcee was Liz Honey.
Performers were: Bradley Marshal, Hoopers Tribal, Albert Pineda, Young Kreationz Crew led by Alex Sy Jr., Christine Signe, Gabby Gabs and Halad Dancers.
The Sto Nino Festival is a yearly event being organisd by the Australian Viasayan Association of Victoria Inc. Officers are: President- Dr Ed Lagrito; Vice President- Nita Sy; Vice President- Edgar Cortes; Secretary- Linda “Daday” del Castillo, Treasurer – Josephine “Nene” Del mar, and Auditor- Rose Broadhurst.
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