Melbourne Catholic - April 2016 - page 7

This year the play was performed twice, on Palm Sunday
and Good Friday.
Pat says the best compliment he has ever received about the play
was from a Catholic nun who had been to the Oberammergau
Passion Play many times. After watching the Melbourne Passion
Play the nun said to him, ‘Mr La Manna, I’ve been to many, many
Passion Plays in my life and this is the best.’ Pat was surprised
and asked her why she felt that way. ‘Because of the simplicity,’
she replied. ‘This is the way it would have happened 2000 years
ago,’ Pat explains. ‘We don’t try to be modern.’
Pat is certainly a high achiever. After arriving in Australia from
Italy in 1948 at the age of 16, he became a potato picker in
Colac and eventually ran his own fruit business. He founded the
La Manna Bananas, a wholesale banana business that secured
a 25 per cent share of the Australian banana industry. He has
a Papal Knighthood, a Medal of the Order of Australia and was
named Senior Australian of the Year in 2009. Pat has been
married to his beloved Helen for 54 years and they have four
children, 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Despite all these wonderful achievements Pat says he is most
proud of the Passion Play. ‘I’ve done very well in business but if
somebody asked me what’s the best thing I’ve done in my life,
I’d say it’s the Passion Play. Because we help people spiritually.
That’s the best thing of all.’
Pat believes there are a couple of reasons for his success in life.
One is the unwavering support of his wife. ‘My wife Helen has
supported me 100 per cent. Everything I do she supports me
100 per cent.’ The other reason is his faith. ‘God has been on my
side. I never pray for success. I pray for health and a happy family.’
Pat hopes the Melbourne Passion Play will continue for many
years to come. ‘I want it to keep on going even after God takes
me. I’ve started a trust and the interest will go towards the
expenses of the play. It’s in my will already.’
What does Pat hope people will experience when they attend
the play? ‘I want to establish a better world. I want them to come
and see the play and afterwards to be good Christians, to change
their attitude towards God. I believe in sharing and I believe the
more you share, the better. God likes people to share. I wish for
people who come to the Passion Play to become better people
and to give and help the poor.’
For more information about the Melbourne Passion Play, go to
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