his is the event we had all been waiting for! Thursday, 14th May 2015 is a date that will live on and treasured forever in the archives of the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia (AVONA).
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After months of intense deliberation, it was decided to organize an event for a noble cause towards raising funds for the building of a new place of worship, a haven for the ever-increasing numbers of the devout Catholics in the Arabian Peninsula which would be named as the ‘Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia’.
With the support of the Bishop of AVONA, His Lordship Camillo Ballin, MCCJ and guidance of the Parish Priest of Sacred Heart Church Fr. Freddy D’Souza, Parish Priest of the Church of Our Lady of Visitation Fr. Rodolfo Encabo (Roen), a group of individuals representing various Communities from the churches in Manama and Awali came together to work towards the realization of the goals outlined from the onset. Under the co-ordination of the Assistant Parish Priest Fr. Gaspar Fernandes and the synchronization of Committee Chairman Mr. Mark Fernandes, meetings were held with the different teams in the months leading up to the ‘Dinner For A Cause’ event.
One incredibly encouraging auspice was the favourable response of parishioners, resulting in the tickets being completely sold out within three weeks of being launched. This was proof indeed that the Virgin Mary was watching over our Church and aspirations with her continuous maternal love.
Around 480 parishioners and guests from various Communities as well as Clergy gathered at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Conference Centre for the ‘Dinner For A Cause’ event on Thursday, 14th May, some showing up an hour in advance to avail of the Early Bird Special as distinctive gifts were promised to the first arrivals.
Guests were surprised as the Master of Ceremonies for the evening, Mr. Russel Fernandes made a dramatic entrance to the beat of Uptown Funk, as he came into the hall and proceeded to entertain the audience with his unique brand of wit and charm. A special pre-recorded Video countdown performed by the Priests and Sisters of the Sacred Heart Church was then screened, which elicited much hilarity and applause. (Youtube link : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQEYQWBW044)
As the guests took their seats, an enlightening Video presentation on the origins of Our Lady of Arabia was displayed where His Lordship Bishop Camillo Ballin, MCCJ elucidated in detail on the different phases of construction and current status of the ‘Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia’ project underway in the Kingdom of Bahrain. (Youtube link : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FZxfk_8Ozs)
His Lordship Bishop Camillo smiled and greeted the guests as he made his way to the podium to deliver his opening address amidst hearty applause. His inspirational words as he invoked God’s unfailing words of promise touched every heart and roused in them the euphoric feeling that they were a part of the bright future of the Northern Vicariate.
In his address, the Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Freddy thanked all the supporters and donors for their whole hearted and generous contributions. His words of encouragement gave a great boost to the efforts of those who had worked tirelessly towards the success of this event.
The Parish Priest of Our Lady of Visitation Church in Awali, Fr. Rodolfo Encabo (Roen) extolled the efforts of the Community towards the advancement of their spiritual growth, as he relayed his message to an attentive audience.
Throughout the evening, live music from Music Touch comprising of Cassius, Ross, Philip and Paul kept all entertained with their rendition of hits over the years, dazzling all with their style of rhythm and energy. A skit was performed by the Priests which had the guests rolling in their seats as they doubled over in laughter. There was another treat in store for all, as the ‘Dinner For A Cause’ team then came on the dance floor to perform their interpretation of a dance medley sequence consisting of Waka Waka, Macarena and finally concluding with Uptown Funk. The enthusiasm of the audience was infectious to such an extent that even His Lordship the Bishop deigned to join the troupe on the dance floor and could be seen swaying to the beat. (Youtube link: https://youtu.be/qcZ8J2LUrvk)
Scores of spot prizes were given away throughout the evening, thanks to the sudden influx of last minute gifts donated by benefactors.
With a sumptuous buffet spread to cater to every palate till the wee hours of the morning, all were satiated. A photo booth with instant photographs ensured that all guests had a memento of this special evening to treasure long after the memories fade. Everyone had such an entertaining and gala time that it was difficult for the band to wind up amidst all the demands for more and yet more. However, as all good things have to ultimately come to an end, the band had to conclude with slow ballads as the event came to an exhausting but oh-so-fulfilling end.
Grateful thanks go out to all who made this very first ‘Dinner For A Cause’ event here in Bahrain a grand success. This would not have been possible without the benevolence of the Royal Family and the people of the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Credit for the success of the event goes out to the ‘Dinner For A Cause’ team:
Organizing Committee: Mark Fernandes, Amita Fernandes, Michelle Anthony and Cheryl D’Souza.
Finance & Ticketing Team: Gerard Fernandes, Rosemary Monteiro, Roysten Farias, Francis D’Silva, Karen Pinto and Dennis Anthony.
Sponsorship/Meet & Greet Team: Donald Mathias, Siby Varghese, Chris Ebreo, Sheena Dias, Esther Pinto, Florine Mathias, Marushka Pinto, Joshy Jose, Willy Carpio, Marion D’Souza, Ibrahim Tadros, Dr. Dinesh, Joscelyn Sequeira and Ella Mandeel.
Design Team: Gavin Fernandes, Melanie Lisboa, Richard Leyson, Manjula, Agnes J. Dias and Chris Noronha and last but certainly not the least, Fr. Gaspar Fernandes.
This event has made all those actively involved in the building of the ‘Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia’ more committed and dedicated towards our ultimate mission, as we are the living stones which have to build the House of God.
Report by Chris Noronha