Migrant faith vibrant still

28 May 2008

By The Record

By Anthony Barich
European migrant festivals celebrating the Catholic faith remain as strong as ever in Perth after over 450 parishioners of St Kieran’s Church in Osborne Park paraded through Tuart Hill for the annual celebration of Maria SS Annunziata on May 18.
A sung solemn Mass was followed by a three-kilometre procession through the streets of Tuart Hill led by Fr Michael Gatt, with Eucharistic Benediction and a communal gathering of traditional food in the parish centre after.
It was the culmination of a Triduum on the preceding Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings, a tradition that has been celebrated by migrants and their extended families in ethnic communities.
Mass-family gatherings to pray the Rosary – especially during the months of May and October, which the Church for a long time has been specifically dedicated to Our Lady – were not uncommon either, according to Fr Gatt.
“In those parts of the world where old Christian traditions still survive, Mary has always a very special place in the family home and also in public places like shops and restaurants,” Fr Gatt said.
“Catholics of the previous generations are very proud of their devotion and veneration to Our Lady.”
Fr Gatt said that in Perth, some 30-40 years ago they started special annual festivals in honour of Our Lady which they hold with high respect and devotion, with bands and many banners of different Marian Associations taking part in their processions, usually following the solemn Mass in any particular church.” 
He said some of these include the La Madonna della Pieta (Our Lady of Mercy, Dianella), Maria SS Annunziata (Mary of the Annunciation, St Kieran’s), La Madonna di Tindari (Our Lady of Tindari, Fremantle), Maria Mamma Nostra (Mary Our Mother, Guildford), La Madonna degli Emigranti (Our Lady of Migrants), La Madonna dei Martiri (Our Lady of Martyrs) and La Madonna di Capo D’Orlando (Blessing of the Fleet).
These special celebrations in honour of Our Lady have often started after some special event in any particular place. 
For example, “it is not surprising that the ancient Florentines made their secular year begin on March 25: the day of the Incarnation of the Word”.
“On this day, in fact, begins the history, not of a city or of a civilisation, but of the whole new humanity,” Fr Gatt said.