Filipinos in UAE pay tribute to early missionaries

Filipinos in UAE pay tribute to early missionaries

The Filipino community in the United Arab Emirates’ capital of Abu Dhabi celebrate the 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines with a Mass at the St. Joseph Cathedral on April 16. PHOTO FROM THE KATOLIKONG PINOY SA ABU DHABI

By Mariel Celine Serquiña

April 18, 2021

Manila, Philippines

Filipino Catholics in the United Arab Emirates have paid tribute to the early missionaries as they commemorated on April 16 the 5th centenary of evangelization in the Philippines.

In a Mass held at the St. Joseph’s Cathedral in UAE’s capital of Abu Dhabi, Capuchin Fr. Troy De Los Santos said the Church is where it is now because the missionaries had a vision that is still alive today.

While admitting the “shortcomings and mistakes” of the past, he emphasized in his homily that what the Church is celebrating is the “gift” of Christian faith.

“This celebration is not just a flashback, a look back. We are also challenged to face the future. In other words, what we are celebrating today is also a call to mission,” De Los Santos said.

That mission, he said, has continued as witnessed by the works that many churches are carrying out, and even by overseas Filipino workers.

“You, our OFW brothers and sisters, are the present-day missionaries,” he said. “You were the ones who are gifted to bring faith, to share your faith.”

The Filipino priest is also the Vicar General of the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia, which covers UAE, Oman and Yemen.

He then told the OFWs to look to the future with courage by always turning to the Lord when they are weak.

“Let us be keen in this celebration and let us not be discouraged. If there comes a time where we feel discouraged, let us remember the blessings God gave to us,” De Los Santos said.

Echoing Pope Francis, who visited UAE in 2019, he reminded the OFWs to be proud of their “yes” to the mission of spreading the faith through the “ordinariness” of their life.

“Your Christian life can be recognized through your simple life and work, where it may be. Your giftedness of faith shows so let us not be ashamed of that,” he said.

UAE has remained among the top destinations for OFWs, according to a report from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.

As of 2020, there are more than 648,000 Filipinos working in the Arab nation, majority of them are in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

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