THE Malayalam Catholic community recently gathered at St John’s Church, Northgate, to celebrate the feast of India’s first and only native-born saint – St Alphonsa.
Melbourne Syro-Malabar Bishop Mar Bosco Puthur, with six priests, concelebrated a solemn high Mass in the saint’s honour on August 3.
Claude Gonsalves, among those present, said the liturgical celebration “culminated with the faithful processing through the inner roads of Nudgee, with the statue and relic of St Alphonsa carried amidst a riot of colourful banners and festive umbrellas”.
“As with most Indian celebrations, the sound of drums and cymbals was always present to announce the procession’s joyous spirit,” he said.
“It was however a delight as well, to hear bagpipes add to the flavour of the celebrations.”
St Alphonsa was born Anna Muttathupadathu, the fourth child of Cherian Ouseph and Mary Muttathupadathu, on August 19, 1910. Her birthplace was Kerala in southern India.
She joined the order of the Franciscan Clarists, taking the name of Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception in honour of St Alphonsus Liguori.
She died at the age of 36 and was canonised in 2008.
The Malayalam Catholic community meets for worship at St John’s Northgate and in Holland Park every Sunday for various devotions.
Catechism for school children is held every weekend at both venues.
Fr Peter Kavumpuram, newly appointed episcopal vicar of the Syro-Malabar rite, oversees the spiritual needs of the community.