Commmunity leaders also note challenges, including lack of space
Filipino coordinators in charge of the different parishes pose for a photo after their Simbang Gabi 2014 meeting on Sept 21 at Church of St Michael.
The Filipino Catholic community in Singapore is the first and currently the largest foreign community here.

In 1991, there were 70,000 members and now that number stands at around 250,000 according to Filipino community chaplain Fr Angel Luciano.

But with a quarter of a million to care for spiritually, it’s not an easy feat for Fr Angel, who has been working in Singapore for the past 23 years.

He invited CatholicNews to attend one of the community’s important meetings – to prepare for the upcoming Year of the Family Simbang Gabi 2014 – nine night Masses to prepare for Christmas.

 Filipinos must try  to be involved in local archdiocesan activities, says Fr Angel Luciano (above).

At the meeting on Sept 21 at the  Church of St Michael, Fr Angel told CatholicNews that the community must continue to be involved in local archdiocesan activities.

Currently, some in the community are wardens, choir members, lectors, catechists and communion ministers. There are also those who are involved in Marriage Encounter and in the social mission of the archdiocese as volunteer teachers and befrienders to needy families, elderly or fellow migrants.

However, the community faces challenges locally. There were times when Tagalog Masses were replaced by parish-based activities, according to one of the coordinators.

“They would prioritise their events and we won’t be able to have our Mass,” said one coordinator.

Within the community, receiving the sacraments can also be a  challenging affair.

“Some of the Filipinos have more than five sets of godparents because that’s our tradition,” while local Catholics have a pair of godparents, said Fr Angel.

When it comes to marriage in church, some Filipinos who have not been confirmed might face difficulties as well.

Filipinos pack the pews of the Church of St Mary of the Angels during last year’s Simbang Gabi.

Filipinos in the community who spoke to CatholicNews also said that couples who have not been married in the church might face difficulty if they want their children baptised in Singapore.

These and other issues are what Fr Angel addresses in his Heart and Soul column in Pinoy Star, a monthly Filipino magazine sold in Singapore, and distributed largely at Lucky Plaza where many Filipino workers gather on their off days.

With a big group “to take care of”, Ms Jenny Arancon, coordinator of the Filipino community in the City District’s four parishes,  hopes that “Filipinos would go to church. I don’t want them to sit [around] in Lucky Plaza.”

Other Catholics from the community said that the faith formation of some Catholic Filipinos is weak.

As a result, they may join other Christian denominations, or religious groups, said Ms Arancon.

There are also some cases of Filipino domestic workers being unable to come to church as they do not have rest days.

For the community, it can also be a challenge to hold meetings in parishes as there are insufficient rooms.

“So what happens is that sometimes we hold meetings in houses instead of in the church,” said one coordinator.

During the meeting, Fr Angel said that Filipino Catholics hope for local Catholics to be more understanding of their needs.

To get in touch with the community, contact Fr Angel Luciano at 6392-0592, or email him at [email protected]

By Lorna O’Hara

Tagalog and English Masses

Tagalog Masses:

1st Saturday of the month:
Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea, Yishun St 22: 6.30 pm

1st Sunday of the month:
Church of St Stephen, 30 Sallim Road: 3pm

2nd Saturday of the month:
St Anne’s Church, 66 Sengkang East Way: 7.30pm
Church of St Bernadette, 12 Zion Road: 1pm

3rd Saturday of the month:
Church of Divine Mercy, 19 Pasir Ris St 72: 7.30pm

3rd Sunday of the month:
Church of St Michael, 17 St Michael’s Road: 1.30pm
Church of the Holy Cross, 450 Clementi Avenue 1: 3pm

4th Saturday of the month:
Church of St Anthony, 25 Woodlands Avenue 1: 7.30pm

4th Sunday of the month:
Church of St Joseph, 143 Victoria Street: 5pm

1st Friday of the month:
Philippines Embassy, 20 Nassim Road: 5.30 pm

English Masses with preaching in Tagalog:

1st Friday of the month:
Church of St Bernadette: 8pm

1st Tuesday of the month:
Church of  Divine Mercy, 19 Pasir Ris Street 72: 8pm

5th Saturday of the month:
Changi Prison (for all inmates): 3pm

English Mass:

1st Sunday of the month:
Filodep, 49A Holland Road (rotation between Msgr Eugene Vaz and Fr Angel Luciano): 1pm