Wing and a prayer for Year of the Rooster

By Jordan Grantham, 12 May 2017
Fr Fernando Montano MG, chaplain to the Chinese Catholic community and Parish Priest of St Monica's Parish, and Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv prepare to join the Lunar New Year celebrations. Image: Diocese of Parramatta/Jordan Grantham.

Chinese New Year started with a bang at St Monica’s Parish, North Parramatta on Sunday 29 January 2017.

Most Rev Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta concelebrated Mass to celebrate Chinese New Year with Fr Fernando Montano MG, Parish Priest and Chaplain to the Chinese Catholic Chaplaincy.

To view images from the Diocese of Parramatta Chinese New Year, click here.

In his homily, Bishop Vincent sent a message of hope and renewal for the year ahead: “In Chinese culture, as in Vietnamese too, the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival is probably the most culturally important festival of the calendar year,” Bishop Vincent said.

“These traditions that give identity and meaning to us need to be valued and safeguarded.”

“Like the rooster that brings in the promise of a new dawn, may we also be people who bring light and hope to others.”

A spectacular Lion Dance welcomed Bishop Vincent Long to the special celebration at the conclusion of Mass. The Lion Dance is performed at auspicious occasions to symbolise good wishes, joy and especially fortune in the year ahead.

Congregants were eager to receive some ‘lucky money’ and a blessing from Bishop Vincent as they exited the Church, which is another symbol of blessings and good wishes.

Bishop Vincent awoke the Lion by painting red dye onto its eyes, which youth from the Chinese Chaplaincy animated and accompanied with percussion music.

Excited parishioners then ‘fed’ their envelope of ‘lucky money’ to the Lion, to bring them ‘good luck’ in the New Lunar Year.

Fr Fernando donned a traditional Chinese coat and demonstrated his linguistic flair in the parish hall afterwards. Hundreds joined for a well-laid Chinese luncheon.

Amusing games, competitions and a traditional Chinese instrumental ensemble entertained the gathered community.

Fr Fernando was surprised with a birthday cake to celebrate his birthday on Wednesday 1 February. Everyone sang Happy Birthday in Cantonese and then Fr Gonzalo Garcia Duran, a Mexican priest visiting from Toowoomba sang in Spanish.

This was only the beginning of festivities.

A Grand Banquet was held at the Phoenix Restaurant Parramatta in the evening.

The Lion Dance was repeated with everyone wanting to make a donation by ‘feeding the Lion’.

Louise O’Donnell, Principal of St Monica’s Primary School, was present and joined in the festivities.

Seminarians from Holy Spirit Seminary filled a table and shared in the raucous fun of the night. They befriended and made a good impression on the young adults of the Chinese Chaplaincy.

Bishop Vincent, Sister Anna and Sister Pauline participated fully in the games of the night, including the ‘Dumpling of Fortune’, which involves the passing of a dumpling along thick straws held in the mouth.

Youth MCs Bruce Lau and Cheryl Wong entertained the crowd with traditional Cantonese jokes, much to the delight of the community’s elders.

Mr Albert Yuen is the Chairman of the Chinese Chaplaincy Pastoral Council and together with the whole community put much effort into the organisation of the celebrations.

“We are glad that our community is under the rules of the Church,” he said.

“We are mostly Cantonese speaking and originally from Hong Kong.”

Fr Fernando concurs – the day’s celebrations are authentically Chinese, the same as in Hong Kong.

The sumptuous banquet had many courses, including, Roast Pork, Seafood and Bean Curd Soup, Sauteed King Prawn, Beef Fillet Cubes and Murray Cod.

Many door and table prizes were given away, including tea, Golden Dragon Ceramic Sets, a Swarovski Crystal Horse and a St. Mary of the Cross Mug & Electronic Rosary.

The community departed late in the evening, exhausted from reveling, including parishioners at St Monica’s Parish, North Parramatta, where the Chinese Chaplaincy has found its spiritual home in the Diocese of Parramatta.

To view images from the Diocese of Parramatta Chinese New Year, click here.


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