Filipinos Gather to Celebrate Ministry

Members of a Filipino choir sang in their native Tagalog language during Mass July 19 at St. Margaret Mary Church, 7813 Shelbyville Road, to commemorate the second anniversary of the establishment of the Filipino Ministry in the Archdiocese of Louisville.  Record Photo by Ruby Thomas

Members of a Filipino choir sang in their native Tagalog language during Mass July 19 at St. Margaret Mary Church, 7813 Shelbyville Road, to commemorate the second anniversary of the establishment of the Filipino Ministry in the Archdiocese of Louisville. Record Photo by Ruby Thomas

By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
Members of the Filipino community gathered for Mass July 19 at St. Margaret Mary Church, 7813 Shelbyville Road, to celebrate the second anniversary of the establishment of the Filipino Ministry in the Archdiocese of Louisville.

The liturgy — organized by the Office of Multicultural Ministry — was celebrated in the native Tagalog language by Father Noel Zamora of the Diocese of Lexington. The ministry’s inaugural Mass was celebrated in July of 2013.

Father Zamora, a native of the Philippines, celebrates Mass in Tagalog every other month at St. Margaret Mary.
These liturgies in Tagalog are about much more than “nostalgia,” Father Zamora said.

“When we hear the word proclaimed in our own language it touches our heart,” said Father Zamora. “It speaks to us more and it speaks to our experience.”

Father Zamora said having a Filipino ministry is important because there’s been a “hunger” in the community to celebrate Mass in the native language, as well as to incorporate aspects of the Filipino culture and tradition.

While the Filipino Ministry is relatively new, it’s based on centuries-old traditions. The ministry offers the following celebrations:

  • Mass in the Tagalog language is typically offered every other month at St. Margaret Mary. The next Mass at St. Margaret Mary will be Nov. 15 at 2:30 p.m. A celebration for the feast day of San Lorenzo Ruiz — a long-standing event not offered by the Filipino Ministry — will take place September 27 at the Cathedral of the Assumption, 433 S. Fifth St.
  • “Simbang Gabi,” an Advent novena, is prayed in the days before Christmas.
  • The celebration of El Santo Niño is observed during the month of January.
  • A Flores de Mayo (May Flowers) celebration honoring Mother Mary is held in the month of May.

“Filipinos are very into their religion,” said Dr. Corazon Veza, a member of St. James Church in Elizabethtown, Ky., who attended the July 19 Mass. Having an established ministry is important, she said.

Veza, who is chair of the archdiocese’s Filipino Advisory Council, said the past two years have been busy as the council tried to pin down their vision for the ministry and work on incorporating their ideas.

“Everyone has so many different ideas, but we’re coming together” she said, noting that she’d like to see the establishment of a Filipino church.

“I know the Filipino community is scattered, but I know they wouldn’t mind having to travel to celebrate Mass,” she added.

For Evelyn Baluyot, a member of St. Patrick Church who attended the Mass, the Filipino ministry is about keeping and sharing the Filipino heritage with the younger generation.

“We want the youth to be exposed to our culture and our Catholic faith,” said Baluyot, who is vice-chair of the Filipino Advisory Council.

Baluyot said that devotion to Mother Mary, devotion to Filipino saints, such as St. Lorenzo Ruiz, and praying the rosary are aspects of the faith she would like the youth to inherit.

“It’s important to keep our roots and our legacy,” she said.

Baluyot noted that the ministry also has helped to foster a sense of solidarity in the Filipino community. For instance, Filipinos rallied together to help relatives back home after a typhoon destroyed parts of the Philippines two years ago, she said.

Father Zamora said that for Filipinos, “Having a community of mutual support and connection in a place far from their native home is important.”

He said the council has drawn people with “great leadership skills” from all over the archdiocese, including Fort Knox, Ky., and Elizabethtown. “It has certainly given them an opportunity and a calling in the archdiocese.”

During the July 19 Mass, Father Zamora introduced two new Filipino seminarians, jokingly calling them his “retirement plan.”

Cesar Estiller and Aldrin Tayag will be entering St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology next month. Estiller is in formation for the Archdiocese of Louisville and Tayag is in formation for the Diocese of Lexington.

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