Headed by Father José Mario Mandia, the meeting took place in late November and saw participation from students, teachers and employees of the University of Saint Joseph. The first-of-its kind organized by the chaplaincy of the higher education institution, the gathering’s main purposes were to cultivate a stronger bond between Filipino community members and to foster a more trustful connection between the Chaplaincy and the student community.
“The aim was to bring the Filipino community closer to each other, as well as to bridge the community to the Chaplaincy. I think it was a good start. At the end of it, everyone agreed that we must hold more of these kinds of activities. We must give credit to the Office for Student and Alumni Affairs (OSAA) Director Teresa Loong, OSAA staff Ben John Bosco Lei and Chaplaincy Student Ambassador C J Peralta for putting the event together,” Father Mandia told O Clarim.
A visiting professor at the University of Saint Joseph, the Filipino priest addressed the students, professors and members of the staff that took part in the gathering to express the presence and willingness of the Chaplaincy to guide and help the members of USJ’s community whenever the presence of God is requested. A former director of O Clarim, Father Mandia elaborated on the Chaplaincy’s responsibilities of making the Sacraments available to the Catholic members of the University, as well as to provide spiritual guidance and enlightenment on doubts and questions that devotees might feel regarding their own faith.
The Filipino missionary, who is the chaplain in charge of the Anglophone community, estimates that around two hundred students of Filipino origin are currently enrolled at the University of Saint Joseph. The first community gathering gave the participants the opportunity to indulge in the archipelago’s traditional flavours and entertainment. Members of the community were given the opportunity to get to know one another, taste traditional Filipino dishes such as pancit, kare-kare and afritada and to play household parlor games of the likes of pinoy henyo.
The University of Saint Joseph’s Chaplaincy intends to organize a gathering of this kind on a semi-annual basis and extend the initiative to other communities with a visible presence within Macau’s Catholic university.
“As far as we know, we counted some 50 Filipino students in the first-year level alone. We could say there are around 200 students, quite probably. As for those who attended the gathering, there were two Filipino priests, eight bachelor and graduate students and seven teaching and non-teaching staff, including the security and maintenance personnel of the University. We are interested in touching base with all our staff and students and this is just the beginning,” Father Mandia emphasizes.
“We want the Chaplaincy closer to the student community and this is the challenge we have to work on. Thanks to this initiative, which was the brainchild of our chaplain Father Cyril, we have taken the first step,” the Filipino priest adds.