The OLQP Festa was back face-to-face celebrating the Parish feast of Our Lady Queen of Peace after two years of online Festa celebrations due to COVID limitations. Sunday, 25th September saw approximately 4000 people engage with faith, culture and fellowship at OLQP Greystanes.
Julie Piscopo, chairperson of the Festa Committee offered an opening statement during the Festa Mass and spoke to the changing face of Festa over the years, sharing her hopes and the spirit of the Our Lady Queen of Peace community, “I have just one hope and that is that through our faith and celebration of this day we may touch the hearts of many; that they may realise that here at OLQP they will find no judgment; only love and family, and may they be assured that all are welcome with open arms.”
The Mass was followed by the traditional procession of the Statue of Our Lady, a tradition that has its origin in the Maltese culture. The sun shone brightly after a week of rain, as dedicated volunteers proudly and faithfully carried the statue of Our Lady Queen of Peace, which is a replica of Our Lady of Victories statue in Xaghra, Gozo. The statue arrived in Greystanes in 1965 from Italy after being commissioned by a band of Maltese immigrants hoping to share their faith and culture within the new parish community of Greystanes. The Festa has been celebrated ever since.
As ‘newbies’ to the Parish Festa, Parish Priest, Fr Paul Roberts and Fr Neil Bulathsinhalage (assistant priest at OLQP) stated that they, “were both greatly moved by the spirit of community and celebration – from the spiritual elements that began this honouring of the ‘Festa of Our Lady’ … to elements that continue to smoothly deliver food, fellowship, creativity, crowds, fun, music and entertainment.”
The joyous atmosphere was palpable after so many who attended shared with organisers and via social media how exciting it was to be back face-to-face. So many people shared their memories of Festa from when they were young and were excited to experience it anew with their own families. Kayla Nahlous remembered coming to the Festa as a child with her whole family. She was now able to bring her own child to the Festa. Kayla says, “Yes, seeing life through your kids’ eyes is incredible, but what’s even more invaluable is having the opportunity to revisit your own childhood memories as an adult and create a new reality for yourself.”
Festa Entertainment included the Maltese Concert Band, students from OLQP Primary School Band, the OLQP Youth Band and the Maltese Cultural Association of NSW Choir. Market stalls and food stalls enticed shoppers and rides and amusements were bursting with family fun. The evening concluded at 8.30pm with the annual fireworks display which did not disappoint. Thank you to the many, many people who supported the Festa in various ways and to all the people behind the scenes who make Festa possible.
Plans are already underway for Festa 2023 to continue this OLQP tradition of 57 years. Visit the OLQP Festa Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/olqp.festa to enjoy highlights of the day.