The Atlanta Gambia Christian Organization is set, yet again to celebrate the feast of the assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known in The Gambia as Sang Marie.
Sang Marie is the biggest feast in the Catholic Diocese of Banjul given the Blessed Virgin is the Patron Saint of the Diocese and the legendary Mother Church of all Churches, the beautiful Cathedral erected by one Pa Gabarr Njie almost a century ago is also named the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary; which adds extra impetus to the importance of the feast for Gambian Catholics all over the world as the Atlanta Gambia Christian Organization’s President, Jean Marenah noted: “ Our fore bearers were so fond of this feast; we feel it is imperative, we keep it alive for their sake, but much more, we always want to glorify our Mother In Faith for all she does for us.”
The celebrations, according to the president Marenah will kick off of Friday 14th August with a welcome Conference to be held at the Quality Inn on North Express Way in Atlanta.
According to Mr Marenah, this conference is meant to bridge the Christian community and also look into projects that Christians in that part of the world can take on in The Gambia.
He said there are a lot of things that can be done to assist and support the churches in The Gambia and he hopes this conference will be a stepping stone for the right direction.
On August 15th, Saturday, the date proper for the feast, a solemn high mass of thanksgiving to honor the Blessed Virgin will be held at the church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Atlanta.
The Principal celebrant will be Monsignor Albert W. Jowdy and he will be assisted by Gambia’s own Fr. Anthony Gabisi; who is the brain child behind the Sang Marie celebration in the United States of America.
Speaking to an Atlanta elder and also a veteran on organizing Sang Marie, Mr Zachious Ogoo; he recalled how “twenty-two years ago the first Sang Marie mass was celebrated by Fr. Gabisi in a small apartment”.
Today, according to Mr Ogoo, Sang Marie has grown to this big annual pilgrimage which Gambian Christians look forward to.
He paid special tribute to Fr Anthony Gabisi who celebrated the first Sang Marie years ago, adding: “It was all Fr Gabisi’s idea, look what we have today; indeed the Almighty has done marvels for us,” he said.
Speaking on the preparedness of the choir, its director, Vincent Ndow who is never short of words when he talks about his choir, said: “As usual they were up for the challenge and promised that pilgrims will enjoy the mass. When quizzed on if it will equal the Cathedral at Banjul where the Gambian version will also be celebrated on August 15th, Mr Ndow boldly said: “Ours will be the best ever by any Gambian choir.”
When reminded by our correspondent that the statement was quite a bold one, Ndow quipped: “We are just as good if not better.”
He said they have been blessed with songwriters and music composers, which really helps the choir progress.
Well, with Genevieve Cardos, the Master Soloist from Spellman College at their disposal. ‘They do have legitimate bragging rights,” our correspondent noted.
In his concluding remarks for this piece, GCO President Jean Marenah thanked all, Muslims and Christians alike, that have been going to Atlanta to join them for the festivities in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the past twenty two years.
According to him, that by itself is the biggest achievement since without them coming; there would not have been a twenty-second year.
He said The Gambia Christian Organization is profoundly grateful to all those that have assisted the group over the years, noting that it was not easy; “ but wherever there is God; there is a will,” he said.
The High Mass will be followed by an all-night reception and cultural evening which will also feature the West African Masquerade Awo Hunting Society (WAMS), the pre-eminent Hunting Society in the Diaspora.
On Sunday there will be a picnic held in honor of the visiting pilgrims.
The stage is set for yet another Sang Marie feast in Atlanta and whether its “Turu Mariama Yaaye La nyu di teral tey, Yen nyineka e Domam, Voylen; navlen tuur am or Ngurul Mbok Mariama, the pilgrims are ready to sing, and indeed, the Hagan Street Cathedral will be visited in spirit during the service.