Some 2,500 people, mostly Filipinos, celebrated the 24th anniversary of the El Shaddai movement in Singapore.
The event, which was also attended by locals, was held at D’Marque, Downtown East in Pasir Ris on Sept 27. It included a thanksgiving Mass celebrated by Archbishop William Goh and several priests.
Mr Mariano “Mike” Velarde, founder of El Shaddai, also gave a talk.
El Shaddai, which is the Hebrew word for God Almighty, was established by Mr Velarde in the Philippines in 1981.
Its members who worked and migrated to different countries, including Singapore, were responsible for opening the group's international chapters.
This year’s anniversary coincided with Migrant Sunday celebration. In his homily, Archbishop Goh stressed the importance of “migration and integration” in achieving the dream of the Catholic Church, which is “to build love and harmony as one family.”
He stressed that both migrants and locals need to be aware that wealth is to be shared and that gifts are given by God and must be shared with everyone.
"It is very important that migrants and locals be integrated," he said.
"It is a win-win situation, wherein all of us grow and prosper together. We need to value each other,” Archbishop Goh said.
Mr Velarde, who is popularly known as “Brother Mike”, agreed on the significance of migration and integration in a community.
In his talk, he emphasised that migration, though, is not just one way.
It is not only Filipinos, who come to Singapore and other countries, but Singaporeans, also travel to the Philippines “to work and do business.”
“As a human, whatever colour, whatever language we speak, we are just one under one God," he said.
"We are one people praying to one God, loved by God and cared for by God. He wants us to mix and make peace with everyone,” Mr Velarde said.
He said, in jest, that it is the locals “who are trying to integrate” into the largely Filipino El Shaddai group that prompted him to try to deliver his message in English, which was not done in past celebrations.
The full day event also included praise and worship by different choirs including those from the Singapore Archdiocesan Catholic Charismatic Renewal (SACCRE) youth and El Shaddai-Manila.
El Shaddai now has an about 10 million members worldwide and in Singapore, the movement has grown to become the biggest Filipino Catholic community.
That expansion has prompted the chapter’s council to open prayer meetings in other parishes aside from Blessed Sacrament Church, where it is based.
The Charismatic group now holds regular weekly prayer meetings at the Our Lady of Perpetual Succour and St Vincent de Paul churches, and plans to open two more prayer meetings in the north and city districts.
As the number of Filipinos and locals attending the El Shaddai celebration every year continues to increase, Mr Velarde said he is contemplating holding next year’s silver jubilee in a much bigger venue – at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
By Charmaine Lirazan