Tuesday, July 1, 2008

St Anthony’s Procession



On 15 June 2008, St Anthony’s parish held its annual procession in honour of St Anthony. The founding parishioners promised St Anthony that if he got them the Church that had been their original parish Church, then up for sale, they would hold an annual procession in his honour. Using a front-man, and in spite of the efforts of the Bishop of Palmerston North to find out who was buying the Church, they became the owners of St Anthony’s Church plus a presbytery section with presbytery, a convent section which was empty, and a school section, also empty.



Each year the length of the procession gives an indication of the growth of the parish, as we can see from our position in the middle of the procession. First the thurifer and servers, then flower-girls, then the statue of St Anthony surrounded by flowers, then the relic carried by the celebrant accompanied by deacon and sub-deacon and flanked by torch-bearers.



Then the Papal Coat of Arms and the Papal Flag and the New Zealand Flag, then the flags of all the nations represented in the parish. Then comes the St Stephen’s Guild, the Third Orders, and then the girls of St Dominic’s College with their banner carried by the Head Prefect and Deputy Head-Prefect, followed by all the girls in uniform, walking two by two with white mantillas on their heads. Immediately behind the girls come the nuns, also two by two, the whole creating a fine sight for the many people who come out to watch the procession go by. After that comes the Schola and various other parish groups and the general parishioners, plus a pipe-band which plays stirring and martial music in between the hymns led by the leader of the Schola over a megaphone.



We always give especially bright smiles as we pass the home of Mrs Green, who writes to the paper each year to complain that the Catholics have been carrying an “idol” through the streets of Wanganui. After we get back to the Churchyard we sing “God Defend New Zealand” while the New Zealand Flag is run up the flagpole, and then “Christus Vincit” as the Papal Flag is run up the flag-pole. We then re-enter the Church for the blessing of St Anthony’s Bread (we all receive a bun) and the veneration of the relic. After that the parishioners repair to the Primary School (St Anthony’s) while the nuns go back to their Convent. In the Primary Classrooms the older girls serve the meal to the parishioners and help with the washing up.



This year we were blessed with exceptionally fine weather for the procession. It was a still, windless, Winter’s day. Quite warm and sunny, a great day to celebrate our Faith and our achievements under God. May God bless St Anthony’s and its people!

6 comments:

Royston Anthony said...
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Royston Anthony said...

Mrs Green must be missing out a fair bit in this God-pleasing procession, this fountain of graces!

Such public processions are most edifying, and it is in these moments when one will feel especially proud to be a Catholic. All the prayers, hymns and music, together with a big family of like-minded traditional Catholics and traditional Dominican Sisters - this is Catholic parish life!

I pray for public street processions to be made possible once again in Singapore, as it had been decades ago.

May the good St Anthony bless and protect your parish!

Bernadette said...

A truly beautiful occasion and a wonderfully traditional Catholic procession. A few points stand out for me. Firstly Mrs Green has some "friends" within the "modernist" movement. It seems to me that many of our newer Catholic churches are almost "statue less". This I believe, is part of a deliberate campaign to move us towards protestantism.It is very sad. I have wonderful memories from childhood of lighting candles in my parish church at the statue of the Little Flower and literally telling her my joys and sorrows. It was quite beautiful on the way home from school on a winters days to enter the church in semi darkness, with the glow of candles from various statues and little grottos. Statues can both inspire us and comfort us and it is a nonsense to suggest this is idolatry. Secondly, is it not a great blessing to read that the older schoolchildren helped serve the parishioners after the procession? We have read already of the sterling work carried out by the Children of Mary when they cleaned the Altar brasses. Here is yet another example of children serving their community. Refreshing in an age where all we seem to hear concerns the alleged "rights" of children. When I was a child we were taught about our duties and this seems to be the case also in Wanganui, thank God.This parish is an example of what can be achieved by the traditional church, with the leadership of zealous Priests, supported by traditional Sisters and a loyal faithful.One of the key elements here I feel, is the convent school, so well represented in this procession. We have many wonderful lay Catholic teachers, but there is no substitute for the nun in the classroom. I am delighted to read also that the sisters have prefects in their school. This system is also sadly dying out in many schools and it is a great pity. Prefects are the eyes and ears of the Sisters and have an important role to play in maintaining discipline in the school. It is also a great opportunity for children to learn about responsibility and leadership and an opportunity for the school authorities to reward good behaviour in their pupils. All in all a wonderful occasion and a fitting tribute to the good Saint Anthony. May God Bless all those in this wonderful parish.

Credo said...

What a delightful occasion.

Antonia said...

Very Dear Sisters,

I just thought I would leave a small greeting here for you. I am well, and am missing you all very much.

Great union of prayers...

k1w1cathol1c said...

every time im on the net i have to look at the procession photos coz it gives me hope about catholicism here in God-zone. keep up the good work. I pray for the SSPX to expand here in the capital. my prayers are with you all.

ps.
catholic in wellington city.