by Jose Relunia, Jr
With shouts of Viva La Virgen, the devotees of Our Lady of Penafrancia or Ina (as devotees call her) celebrated the 302 years tradition with a concelebrated mass at St Nicholas of Myra Church, Penrith followed by fluvial procession on the Nepean Rover. This year also marks the 130 years of devotion to El Divino Rostro. Both devotion to Ina and El Divino Rostro started in Naga City.
The main celebrant for the mass was Fr, Matthew Antony, new parish priest of St Nicholas of Myra with Fr. Joe Manjalay, new assistant parish priest of St Nicholas of Myra, Fr. Seraph Bandrales, a visiting Bicolano priest and Fr. Larry Tolentino, a Bicolano from Sorsogon and assistant parish priest from Our Lady of Queen of Peace, Greystanes as concelebrants. The deacon for the mass was Rev Leon Decena who is assigned at Blessed John XXIII parish at Stanhope. Acolytes were Nestor Montais, Alex Mendoza and Dennis Welfare
The high mass was a very meaningful one with the altar servers from the Filipino Chaplaincy participating and the 3SM choir singing the hymns. Brian Lorenz sang the Ave Maria and the St Nicholas of Myra Youth participated by bringing the gospel book to the tune of Alleluia to Deacon Leon Decena for gospel reading. Reader was Merle Fernandez while leaders in the Prayers of Faithful were Penny Perfecto, Atoy Sayas, Cen Amores, Jhun Salazar, Leah Encomienda, Jesse Mowbray and Naomie Santiago. Offerors were Federal Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury and Consul General Anne Jalando-on Louis. Commentator for the mass was Julie Nunez of the Filipino Chaplaincy of the Diocese of Parramatta. The recitation of the Holy Rosary was led by Maria Battikha; novena of the El Divino Rostro was led by Max Encomienda and novena to Our Lady of Penafrancia was led by Nellie Lincoln.
After the mass, the Replica of Our Lady of Penafrancia was brought to the Tench Reserve Wharf in a 10 minute car procession led by William and Pi Gaite. Awaiting her for the fluvial procession was the Explorer which was used as the Pagoda. The Replica of Ina was placed on top of the Explorer so the people along the Nepean River banks and the devotees on board the Nepean Belle were able to see the Replica and paid homage to Ina. Leading the fluvial procession was the pagoda followed by Ed Bada’s boat and then the Nepean Belle. Shouts of Viva La Virgen echoed during the fluvial procession while at the pagoda ( only men were allowed on the pagoda as the only lady on board should only be Our Ina), men were reciting the Holy Rosary and singing hymns with Vic Tuballa on the guitar.
After a 30 – 40 minute fluvial procession , the Nepean Belle docked first at a jetty near Factory Reserve followed by the pagoda. When the devotees were already on the river banks, the Replica of Ina was brought down from the pagoda for a procession to the Factory Reserve. The devotees sang Marian hymns during the procession. Once the Replica was placed on the table inside the marquee, the devotees offered prayers / petitions to Our Lady of Penafrancia. They took also some flowers which were offered during the mass. The flowers were donated by Linda Monte and Susan Relunia.
John and Helen Wakeling and their son David were so touched by the fluvial procession particularly by by the sight of the Replica of Ina on the top of the Explorer for everyone to see.
After the fluvial procession, lunch, program and entertainment followed at the Factory side of the Tench Reserve. Fr. Seraph blessed the food provided by 3 stallholders. Among those who contributed were the Buklod ng Pag-ibig led by Gerry and Leah Galam, Bicolano Group and Friends with Siony Caballero, Rowena Mercado, Evelyn Datoc, the Filipino Chaplaincy, Banal ng Pag-aaral and other devotees. Soft drinks were provided by group of doctors – Bonnie and Beth Relativo, Armando and Veron Alcantara and Marvin and Merle Drapeza.
Program and Entertainment were highlighted by good performances of friends of ADOLP like the Sonata Singers, the PLCAA Glee Club, PLCAA Cultural Dancers and Friends and Brian Lorenz. These groups of performers have panata / commitment to Ina to perform at the yearly Feast of Our Lady of Penafrancia. Cumbacheros led by Mang Danny Garcia have provided the music for the past 5 years and will continue to provide music in the coming years.
Also prior to the Feast Day, the Replica of Our Lady of Our Lady of Penafrancia visited 3 parishes, St Paul the Apostle, Winston Hills, St John the Evangelist, East Riverstone and St Patrick, Blacktown.
The celebration was the best gift to Ina on her Feast Day that the devotees are now looking forward to next year Feast Day celebration which will be held on 21st Sept 2013.
After the Feast Day, ADOLP will now be concentrating on the 1st Saturday of the month novena and masses held regularly at 11:00 am at St Nicholas of Myra Church. Oct 6 will be the next novena mass and everyone is invited to join.
Viva La Virgen and Viva El Divino Rostro
Photos by: Noe Adan, David Wakeling and Jorge Relunia