From the New Bedford Standard Times -Luso Life

By Pedro Amaral

Holy Ghost Feast marks another successful year

The 17th annual New England Great Holy Ghost Feast concluded Monday with a banquet at Whites of Westport restaurant where two important announcements were made.
The first announcement came from Bishop Sean P. O'Malley. He handed over the title deed of St. Louis Church to Heitor Sousa, for it to be the site of the Holy Ghost Museum. The second announcement came from Alfred Alves, president of future museum organizing committee. Mr. Alves said the Portuguese Government had just made a deposit of 50,000 euros, roughly $49,000, to the museum's bank account.
Mr. Sousa, founder and promoter of the feast, did not miss the opportunity to remind Carlos Cesar, president of the Azorean regional government, of the future museum's need of his help in order to become a reality in the near future.
"The Azorean government has an important role to play in the life of this museum," Mr. Sousa said. "The museum will be a place to showcase the traditional life, the faith and the folklore of the Portuguese who settled in this area, particularly the Azoreans. Therefore, I ask the Azorean government to help with much needed funds in order to jumpstart this project."
Manuel Costa, current feast president, was happy with the outcome of this year's event. He said more people flocked to John F. Kennedy Park during the four-day celebration than ever before.
"I'm glad it is over, and all ended well," Mr. Costa said. "Now, we start getting ready for next year. As we all can see, the feast has grown from year to year, and we are at a point where the Great New England Holy Ghost Feast has become larger than any of us. During the past 16 years we have promoted our culture and Fall River, as the city that it is known for the largest celebration of the Holy Ghost in the world. We are all proud for being part of this demonstration of peace, love and charity in a city that accepts us for what we are," Mr. Costa said.
The 500 guests were treated to the sound of Sociedade Filarmonica Estrela do Norte of Fenais da Ajuda, Azores. The band opened the evening with the American, Portuguese and Azorean anthems, as well as the Holy Ghost hymn. The Orquestra Ligeira de Ponta Delgada, a 20-piece orchestra commissioned by the government of Ponta Delgada, Azores, for the four day-event, played at times throughout the night.
Berta Cabral, Mayor of Ponta Delgada, said he was impressed with the demonstration of faith she found among the Azoreans living away from the Azores.
"In the Azores, we all have heard of the Holy Ghost feast in Fall River," she said. "But until we come and see it first hand, we have no idea of its magnitude, and its impact among the Azoreans living on this side of the Atlantic. Their pride becomes contagious for us living in the Azores and unaccustomed to this fervor. Only when we get here do we realize how important the roots and history are for those who left their birthplace in search of a better living."
Ms. Cabral said when her municipality was invited to actively participate in this year's feast, she saw an opportunity to bring closer the two communities of Azoreans. She said her participation involved cultural activities and business contacts that show great promise to be fruitful for the two communities.
"We also brought a photo exhibit that became a very emotional item for many people. I saw them point to where their houses or their street would be. I saw the smiles on their faces, and that made it worthwhile all the efforts we made to bring all the people, and materials across the Atlantic.
"But this was only possible because someone had the idea of inviting us. To those people, I am grateful, especially Mr. Costa, feast president, and of course Mr. Sousa. To the organization and to those involved with our stay, and to Mayor Lambert, go my sincere thanks for the hospitality we found in Fall River. Thank you very much."

Pedro Amaral can be reached at 123 Ames St., Fall River, MA 02721, or at amaral3@aol.com.

This story appeared on Page A9 of The Standard-Times on September 1, 2002.

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