Festival celebrates the contributions of African immigrants to the Portland Catholic community
PORTLAND---The sound of music and the aroma of delicious dishes filled the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception’s Guild Hall on Saturday, September 16, during the annual African Festival.
The festival is a celebration of the beauty of African culture and community and a recognition of the contributions that African immigrants have made to the Portland Peninsula & Island Parishes.
“We have a large number of parishioners who have come from Africa and who have become a beautiful part of our parish family. We’re very grateful for the way they enrich our life of faith and contribute to the vitality of our parishes. So, the gala is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate that gift,” said Father Seamus Griesbach, rector of the cathedral and pastor of the other four Portland Peninsula & Island Parishes.
The festival began with a colorful parade of nations, with people from various countries walking through the hall waving or carrying flags. That was followed by African music and dancing and lots of homemade food, enough to fill several long tables.
“The African festival is a way for the African population to share our culture and food with the whole community. It's our way to contribute to the building of the kingdom of God. We Africans like to dance, cook, celebrate, belong, and share,” said Solange Tchatat, who is originally from Cameroon but now lives in Yarmouth.
Joining in the festivities were several priests from the Diocese of Kumbo in Cameroon who are now serving in the Diocese of Portland. They included Father Cyprian Tatah, a parochial vicar of the Portland Peninsula & Island Parishes, who shared the opening prayer.
Proceeds from the festival benefit the benevolent work of Sacred Heart / St. Dominic Parish in Portland, which has numerous community programs, including a food pantry. Sacred Heart/St. Dominic also offers a Mass in French and English each Sunday, recognizing that French is a language that many immigrants from Africa speak.