By Jessielyn Monton
The Filipino Pastoral Community of Holy Trinity Parish Tawau celebrated the 19th year of the Feast of Santo Nino de Cebu on 15th January 2017.
Some 800 or more Filipino Parishioners gathered in celebrating the Thanksgiving Mass presided by Rev. Fr. Msgr. Nicholas Ong con celebrant with Rev. Fr. Philip Muji at 11 in the morning. Interestingly, 35 Filipinos from the outstation chapel of St. Jude, Semporna and 10 from Kunak came all the way to participate in this event.
The theme for this year’s celebration was “Santo Nino Make us Your Instrument of Love”. Through this significant theme, it is their hope that this celebration would foster unity and harmony amongst the community in the Parish.
It also aims to re-evangelize the community especially the youth to have a sense of responsibility; to love and serve their community joyfully. At present, there are many youth involved mostly as musicians and dancers. In a way, the FPC- Filipino Pastoral Community acts as a bridge to reach out to lapse Filipino parishioners and generally to all Filipinos to eventually draw them to the church. As they integrate in the community and journey together, they become aware that there are many who need help especially the aged and families who are less fortunate.
The Filipino Community having the biggest number of Catholics can give a tremendous impact in serving the Catholic Church. Their journey together with other communities in the parish as one big family shows another wonderful way of building the kingdom of God in peace.
Msgr. Nicholas in his homily expressed his gratitude to the community for their continuous participation in the development of faith especially within their members. “The theme reminds me of the various communities we have in this parish, your tolerance, friendship and support to any church activities indeed is a way to practise your theme this year. God is love and He wants us to be his instrument of love regardless of any situation. May this theme illumines your hearts and is rooted in you in your service to one another. Be sincere, humble and honest like a child then you will truly become the instrument of love, peace and unity”, he said.
After the Eucharistic celebration, all proceeded to the Parish Hall for lunch cum entertainment. A vibrant procession from the main Church to the Parish Hall was accompanied by the Sinulog Dance - a traditional and ritual dance in honour of the Santo Nino.
Some 1000 parishioners from the Filipinos and other communities gathered at Holy Trinity Parish Hall to join in the celebration. Aside from the Sinulog Dance, there was a Raffle Draw, Traditional Dance Competition and awarding ceremony which brought joy and excitement to all.
Filipino students who did well in their UPSR, PT3, SPM, SPM scoring 3 A’s above (and core curriculum) were recognised and awarded.
Also, a special award ceremony was given to two (2) senior members who had contributed in the growth of the community: Mr. Jose Francisco Regino (75 years old) and Mrs. Julie Jumalon Kho (66 years old). The award serves as a gratitude for their unconditional assistance and active involvement in the community from the beginning till today.
Joel Monasque, the Chairman of the community expressed his gratitude for the opportunity given to lead in organizing this event. “Few years back, I noticed that especially the youth began to get involved in the church activities and it is wonderful to see them coming closer to the church – unless we really humble ourselves as a child then we will know why and how to live with other communities. To live in peace we must first be the model of love to others” he said.
Sharing from parishioners:
Alexander Estos: “The theme touched me most. It reminded me that - everyone who is united in Christ is and can be an instrument of God’s love.”
Alesa Bontilao, Mary Lee Esporton and Danny Carreon - Elders in this community shared the same view on the event.
“We should always be like a child in order to enter into God’s kingdom. We are indeed blessed to be in communion with others where we can share our talent and serve the church faithfully through this community . The Infant Jesus shows us an example of being child-like so that God can use us to be an instrument of God’s love for others.”
James Kumanirang (PYA)-An Indonesian youth who attended the event felt grateful and amazed on the involvement of the FPC youth. “The FPC youth are actively involved in the Parish Youth Apostolate. Events like this would draw more youth to join other activities in the church through their base community”.