Thursday, March 20, 2014


For hundreds of years, the island of Luta (Rota) had but one church, San Francisco de Borja in Songsong.

But in 1991, a mission was started in a new housing development in Luta near the airport, in an area called Sinapalo.  The priest was Fr (now Msgr) Louis Antonelli.  He moved from Songsong, which received a new pastor, and took up residence in Sinapalo.  San Isidro (Saint Isidore of Madrid), the patron of farmers, was made patron of the new Sinapalo Church.

Msgr Antonelli worked hard with the people to build the present church, with small living quarters for the priest.

Actually, there are many small chapels and roadside shrines in Luta; many of them built under Msgr Antonelli's direction.  Sinapalo was one of them and, due to the new housing development there, it was selected to be the site on an emerging parish.


In March, the farmers gather their first batch of fruits, vegetables and tubers.  These "first yields" are called primisias (from the Spanish).  They are offered to God in thanksgiving for a good harvest.  Also thanked is San Isidro, the farmers' patron.  The primisias are placed before San Isidro's altar at the fiesta.

After the fiesta Mass, these fruits and vegetables are left for the visitors to come and take home.  The locals are not to take any, unless visitors have left any behind.

Complete with fireworks (kuetes; from the Spanish word cohete), live music, dancing, raffles and carnival games, one finds it curious that such a traditional place as Luta would have this kind of festivity in the Lenten season, when traditional Chamorro Catholics refrain from all such merrymaking.  Besides, San Isidro's feast day is May 15, not in March.

It was explained to me that the local people had difficulty celebrating May 15 as the feast day.

May is graduation month; First Communion month and sometimes Confirmation, too.  There are many small chapel around Luta and each of them celebrates an annual fiesta.  May was too crowded with other events, and families felt overwhelmed with the burden of putting out for fiestas and parties in this one month.

Summer time would be too late to celebrate and had its own fiestas.  April would be risky with Holy Week and Easter usually falling in that month.  So March was chosen as the best time to hold the fiesta.

So, permission was granted to do so.

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