Many Gifts, One Spirit!

Multicultural Fiesta at St. Mark’s, Inala

“There are varieties of gifts but the same spirit, and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the spirit for the common good.”
– 1 Cor 12: 4-7

Thousands, from a host of different cultural backgrounds and nationalities gathered together at St. Mark’s, Inala on September 9, 2018 for the biennial Multicultural Fiesta – a unique and vibrant celebration of the cultural and ethnic diversities of the members of St Mark’s parish and school community. The planning, organising and the celebrations of the Fiesta with a special focus on the Multicultural Mass was a combined effort of St. Mark’s Parish and St. Mark’s School. The celebration brings closer together the School and the Parish communities as well as cherishing, celebrating and sharing with one another in meaningful ways the unique culture and tradition of our members. Any guest joining the celebration for the first time could easily notice the multicultural nature of the St. Mark’s Community –people hailing from different continents, nationalities, languages, cultures, traditions, ethnic groups and age groups, dressed in their unique style, colours and costumes – everyone bringing their unique presence and diverse gifts, yet united together in One Spirit under the banner of Jesus Christ!

The Multicultural Fiesta Mass, celebrated in the Mercy Hall of St. Mark’s School began at 9 am with the acknowledgement of country and the traditional owners of the land. The main celebrant of the Eucharist was Rev. Monsignor Peter Meneely, Vicar General along with the many priests who joined him at the altar as concelebrants.

In his opening address Fr. Bang Nguyen SVD the Assistant Priest of St. Mark’s Parish, on behalf of the Parish Priest Fr. Stephen Pilly SVD and all the staff of St. Mark’s, welcomed Monsignor Peter Meneely, Vicar General, Annastacia Palaszczuk, Premier of Queensland, and all the distinguished guests and everyone gathered for the celebration of the Eucharist.Fr. Bang stated that “Multicultural Fiesta is a good opportunity to share with one another our different cultures, languages and food. It is a day we share our gifts and talents which God has given us. Let us continue to collaborate and work together to make our parish a community that is inclusive and values the gifts of all”.

In the celebration of the Multicultural Mass much attention was given to include all. Every group had a part to play, however small its number may be. Diverse cultural elements from the various national and language groups were integrated into the celebration of the Eucharist. The different choirs of the parish sang melodiously in their national languages.

For the celebration of the Liturgy of the Word, our Tongan parishioners brought in the Holy Bible in a solemn traditional procession which was led by the dancers with lighted lamps signifying the presence of Christ, the Light of the world. The Commentator Mrs. Losalia Fernandez prepared the people to receive the Word of God as a precious gift and to honour and praise God for sustaining and nourishing us through His Word.

Highlighting the unity of the gathering amidst its diversity, in his homily Monsignor Peter Meneely stated: “Today we again gather to celebrate our great unity amidst our great diversity. On the first day of January 1901, over 40,000 years after the first Australians inhabited this great Southern land and 130 years since Captain Cook first landed at Botany Bay and established a settlement, the Australian States came together to form a Nation and became the Commonwealth of Australia. On that day many people from many lands came together to begin building a new nation. In our gathering today we join them in that great work”.

For the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the Samoan parishioners led the community in the Offertory procession. Many different gifts of offering were brought to the altar by a host of parishioners representing their respective cultures – an expression of their willingness to offer back to God what He in His goodness has freely given to us.

Fr. Joseph Vu SVD, the Chaplain of the Vietnamese Community in his ‘Vote of Thanks’ expressed his gratitude to Rev. Monsignor Peter Meneely, Vicar General for presiding over the Eucharist. He also acknowledged and thanked all the distinguished guests especially Annastacia Palaszczuk, Premier of Queensland. On behalf of Fr. Stephen Pilly SVD, the Parish Priest of St. Mark’s and the School, he thanked the parish and school staff and the many volunteers and helpers for their tireless and concerted efforts and commitment to make the day a meaningful and enjoyable one for everyone.

At the conclusion of the Eucharist, as a happy coincidence the birthday of Monsignor Peter Meneely, was celebrated with the cutting of a birthday cake while the large gathering sang for him “Happy Birthday to you…” As a token of gratitude a small gift was presented to Monsignor Meneely.Fr. Joseph invited everyone present to move on to the undercover area of the school, where many types of cultural food could be purchased and entertainment enjoyed by all. As planned, it soon was time to wind up the event by early afternoon. The Fiesta really was jam-packed celebration of St. Mark’s unity as one family in its multicultural diversity!

Sr Philomina Mathew SSpS