Published: 21 January 2015
The Mareeba parish dedicated to St Thomas of Villanova acknowledges and highlights the many and varied cultures of its people by festivals and events on its annual calendar, some of which have been there for the past forty years.
Traditionally the land of the Muluridji people, the parish today is the home to people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds with Italians, Croatians, Filipinos, Albanians, Spaniards and Aborigines all well represented.
The feast of Santo Niño is celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of January at the 10.00 am Mass. This devotion of the Philippine community focuses the child Jesus, the “holy infant.” After Mass there are the culinary delights of the Philippines shared and enjoyed.
On the 2nd Sunday of September the feast of Our Lady of the Chain. This southern Italian tradition is celebrated with a special Mass at 2.30pm followed by a procession through the streets of Mareeba, afterwards a barbecue, refreshments and entertainment take place on the school oval culminating with spectacular fireworks.
To celebrate the feast of St Thomas of Villanova, the national group named Friends of St Augustine offers everyone refreshments after the 10.00am Mass on the Sunday nearest the feast day which is 10 October. This occurs on the Reconciliation Lawn adjacent to the parish church,
On the last Sunday of October there is the Aboriginal Culture Mass (see photo above), involving the local Aboriginal community, the Aboriginal and Islander choir from Cairns and the indigenous students from Mt St Bernard College, Herberton. After Mass, morning tea is held on the Reconciliation Lawn adjacent to the church.
On the feast of Christ the King, there is an annual International Celebration which begins with the 6.00pm Vigil Mass and draws on the various cultures represented in our Parish. Afterwards, in the covered area of the school the congregation share a meal of various traditional ethnic foods that have been prepared by the parishioners typical of their cultural background, followed by various cultural entertainments.
The Parish of St Thomas of Villanova in Mareeba has been staffed by the Order of Saint Augustine since it began a century ago. Mareeba is located on the tableland behind the tropical tourist city of Cairns, in northern Queensland, Australia, and is part of the Cairns Diocese.