Mar 12, 2013, 9:53 AM
The Gambia Christian Organization (GCO), of Atlanta is in the middle of intense preparations for their annual feast of Sang Marie celebrations, an annual Gambian pilgrimage to honor the Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ, St Mary, also the Patron Saint of the Catholic Diocese of Banjul and for whom the Island of Kombo St Mary in our Republic is named.
This year will mark the nineteenth commemoration of the feast in the United States of America.
It should be recalled that the first Sang Marie was celebrated nineteen years ago in Atlanta by nothing more than ten people under the auspices of the first Gambian ordained Roman Catholic Priest, Fr Anthony Gabisi. Nineteen years later and looking forward to a landmark twentieth, this organization must be thankful to God Almighty and the Blessed Mother herself, for this gathering has grown from strength to strength and has become the premier Gambian Christian gathering in these United States, “NGURUUL MBOK MARIAMA YAI.”
In an exclusive interview with our Atlanta based correspondent, a senior Executive member and founding member of the GCO, Mr Vincent Ndow, said the celebrations this year will be held from the 17th to the 20th of August, 2012 in the chocolate city of Atlanta known of course for its southern cuisine, hospitality and strong civil rights pedigree.
Dilating on the festivities proper, Mr Ndow said there will be a solemn High Mass and Procession on Saturday, 18th August 2012 commencing at 7 pm.
This, he said, will take place at the home Parish of the Gambia Christian Organization Choir at the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, off Claremont Road on Briar Cliff. This will be followed immediately by a reception and cultural evening in Lawrenceville.
The following day, Sunday, the annual Picnic will take place at Stone Mountain in the city’s outskirts.
Quizzed on what The Gambia Christian Organization is all about, Mr Vincent Ndow said they established a number of programs which includes Emergency Relief Assistance, Guidance, Mentoring and other Family Support Mechanisms.
He revealed that the GCO Choir has been performing at Colleges and Universities around the country, for the Arch Diocese of Atlanta, and for cultural and civic organizations in the State of Georgia and beyond.
Ndow further went to add that their yearly highlight is their partnership with the Knights of St Peter and Paul, a Catholic charity organization in The Gambia through which the GCO donates clothing and school supplies for distribution in rural Gambia.
The group also volunteers in the Atlanta community by helping feed families in the various food Banks around the city. Mr Ndow lamented that their growth as an organization was slow, but did take solace in the fact that they have always been able to lend a helping hand to the needy both in America and The Gambia. “That’s the most important thing,” he said.
At this year’s celebration, at which time the organization will also look for donations from attendees to further consolidate their programs, the Atlanta organization will also honor renowned Atlanta television Anchor, Mrs. Monica Pearson with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
The occasion, according to Mr Ndow, will be graced by representatives of the two Gambian Diplomatic outfits in the United States.
On the issue of why the Roman Catholic Bishop of Banjul, His Lordship Robert Patrick Ellison Cssp or his predecessor, now Bishop Emeritus of Banjul Michael Cleary has never attended the Atlanta Sang Marie, Vincent Ndow turned Diplomat Extraordinaire with these words,”Of course we’d love to have the Bishop here with us but it is next to impossible given that Sang Marie is the Feast of the Diocese of Banjul and the Bishop being the Head of the Diocese, he has to be around for that most important date of the Gambian church calendar, however with our twentieth in the horizon, 2013 to be precise, we hope His Lordship will join us year in Atlanta for this most historic event. One thing I can confirm now is that, an invitation will surely be sent to Mantle Farm in the next few weeks and we’d take it from there.”
Well, we hope the Bishop of Banjul reads this one and takes Vincent on this invitation. All Christians in the United States are putting in the finishing touches, be it the “Daypaes’, arranging for time off from work or flight arrangements, hotel arrangements, car rentals, everything is in place and yes, they will come in their numbers to celebrate the Virgin Mother of God, our Mother in faith to the last song, “TURU MARIAMA YAYE, LA NYU DI TERAL TEY, YEN NYI NEKA E DOM AM, VOY LEN, NAV LEN TUUR AM! HAPPY AND BLESSED SANG MARIE FEAST TO ALL!