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VIENNA, Austria – Hundreds of Filipinos and Austrians joined the Nuestra Senora de Penafrancia fluvial procession along the Danube River going to Hainburg an der Donau, Lower Austria on Saturday, September 17, 2016.
The fluvial procession was supported by the Filipino Peñafrancia devotees, Austrians, Filipino Catholic Chaplaincy and the Philippine embassy.
The devotees went to Pfarrkirche Hl. Phillipus und Jacobus, where a high mass with Msgr. Jovy Lobrigo, a Bicolano priest, as main celebrant, took place. “If there is a meaning in our pilgrimage today, and our our journey for this year to our Ina, we are all are challenged to lay down ourselves to her and asked for help because in whatever situation and irregularity we are in, according our our dear Pope Francis, our Ina will not fail us,” Msrg. Jovi Lobrigo said in his sermon.
Consul General Sulficio Confiado of the Philippine Embassy in Austria, together with some Embassy officials also joined their kababayans in celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia in Vienna.
Mr. Confiado congratulated the Bicolanos in Austria for organizing the festivity, particularly the traditional fluvial procession, which has been a source of inspiration for the Filipino community in Austria.
“Our faith is our culture and our culture is our faith. I hope and pray that our devotion to the Mahal na Ina will not fade. We pass this devotion to our children and to our children’s children. Most especially, we share the beauty of this devotion to our Austrian brothers and sisters,” the Consul General contended.
Helmut Schmid, mayor of Hainburg an der Donau heartily welcomed the pilgrims.
Before the fluvial procession, a 9-day novena was conducted at the Filipino Catholic Church in Vienna’s 10th District, where devotees gather for the nightly prayers and “salo-salo” sponsored by independent Bicol support organizations.
The Penafrancia Committee of the Bicol Society in Austria, under the leadership of Marizel Rojas, has been working with the Filipino Catholic community for a successful and meaningful Peñafrancia feast.
Rojas said that the consistent observance of this tradition in the Filipino community in Austria serves as a thread that binds the present generation of Filipinos to the past and ensures that they will inspire the faith and lives of the future generation. It also sustains and strengthens our good relations in the Filipino community.
“We, the Bikolanos in Austria brought this religious devotion in Vienna because we want to become instruments of faith among our “kababayans”. We want to spread the devotion to INA which has really brought meaning to the lives of a number of Filipino Marian devotees in Austria,” the president of the Bikol society (Austria) added.
The feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia festival takes place every 3rd Saturday of September. What makes this festival grand is the extensive list of fun-filled activities, as well as religious activities that reflect the religious influence of the Spanish colonisation in the Filipino culture. The highlight of the celebration is the fluvial procession on the feast day.
Hector Pascua, philippine-press