The Catholic Pastoral Center of the Diocese of Macau will mark this year’s Feast of the Holy Family with an initiative directed specifically towards the Filipino immigrants that don’t have the opportunity to share the Christmas season with their children.
On December 30th, the day that the Catholic Church devotes to the celebration of family and family life, the center will bring together the Filipino community in an environment as familiar as possible. During the event, the Catholic Pastoral Center will broadcast messages and testimonies of children whose parents are living and working in Macau. The statements were collected in the Philippines by the Diocese of Macau and are mainly destined to workers that are alone in Macau: “There’s a lot of people who are alone in Macau. Many of them are mothers who were forced to leave their children behind,” recalls Father Alejandre Vergara. “In order to reinforce their connection to their loved ones, during the celebration we will air the interviews we made with their children. It will be unknown to the mothers that the interviews will be broadcasted, but we will make sure that the mothers will join,” says the superior of the Society of Our Lady the Most Holy Trinity in Macau, one of the ministers to whom the Diocese of Macau entrusted with the responsibility of answering the spiritual needs of the local Filipino community.
“With this initiative we want people to feel that, even though they are far from those that they love the most, they still belong to a larger family. Many people and several other religious organizations will join us because they believe that the Church can, effectively, be a second family for all those that are alone,” underlines Alejandre Vergara.
For the Filipino community living in Macau, Christmas celebrations are centered mainly on the Eucharist. Starting from tomorrow, the Cathedral and three other churches – St Augustine’s, St. Lawrence and Our Lady of Fatima – will be hosts to “Simbang Gabi” (see related article).
Fr Vergara said, “A lot of people longed for Simbang Gabi and we asked the Bishop permission to organize it in Macau. It was a very little community that started this tradition here in Macau, but it grew because it is something that the Filipino Catholics long for,” explains the minister.
For many Filipino faithful, Christmas is mainly a spiritual celebration. Far from their family and without time or money to celebrate in a more effusive way, many see the Church as a welcoming refuge: “Many of these people, they don’t even celebrate ‘Noche Buena.’ We have noticed that right after the Mass, many of them return home because they have to work in Christmas Day. That’s why in Macau, Christmas celebrations are mainly centered on the Eucharist,” concludes Father Vergara.