Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
August 24, 2009
Nigerians celebrate colourful Baptism at St. Anthony's
Lucy Onyeake holds her newly-baptized daughter Valerie as family and friends at the July 19 Baptism join in a joyous offertory procession.
SPECIAL TO THE WCR
EDMONTON - St. Anthony's Parish boasts a wonderful community of mixed ethnic groups. So it was that on July 19, two families presented their daughters for Baptism at the parish's 10:30 a.m. Mass.
Echo Marie, of Filipino-Hungarian and Vietnamese background, is the daughter of Jasmine Do and Zoltan Berkes. The Baptism they had planned followed the usual ritual but with extensive feasting and celebrating afterwards.
Lucy Onyeaka and Joseph Ayeni had approached Father Tefu Kelati for permission to augment their daughter's Baptism with some of their native Nigerian practices and the pastor was pleased to oblige.
Ayeni, a graduate student in biological sciences at the U of A, started the plans, but Onyeaka, on maternity leave from the University Hospital, fleshed out the details of the celebration of Baptism of little Valerie.
After the second Baptism, Joseph and Lucy's relatives moved back down the aisle and there was a rapid re-grouping to discuss their choice of songs and to retrieve baptismal gifts.
In Nigeria, plants, seeds, chickens, lambs, goats and even cows might be presented. In this case, Joseph and Lucy chose to bypass the cows and other animals. Instead, their gifts were wine and money.
Dressed in bright costumes of their ethnic area, they began to move up the aisle again, swaying, chanting, singing and clapping. The congregation immediately joined in and clapped at appropriate times.
There was a beautiful sea of singers and dancers that worked its way towards Father Tesfu who beamed and accepted their offerings.
As with the Berkes baby's Baptism, photos were snapped and gifts given to the babies. Soon both parties began to partake of their special delicacies. St. Anthony's Parish had gained two more little parishioners.
(Liz Stolee is a member of the St. Agnes Parish council.)