Jesuit Fr Lester Maramara speaking at the day of recollection for Filipinos on July 26.

Seventy-five women attended a day of recollection specially organised for Filipinos by the Jesuit-run Kingsmead Centre.

Filipino Jesuit Fr Lester Maramara, who led the time of prayer and reflection on July 26, pointed out to participants that Pope Francis often refers to “God’s mercy”.

However, “this is not something new” to Filipinos, he said. “We Filipinos, in fact, find ourselves blurting out common expressions, ‘May awa ang Diyos!’, or ‘Hinaut, maluoy ang Ginoo!’ (Have mercy, Lord!)”

Fr Lester told participants they are still constantly reminded, challenged and invited to recognise and embrace the mercy and love of God today.

A real experience of God’s mercy and love always moves people to love and to forgive their brothers and sisters, he said. There is just no other way for God’s love and mercy to grow, for the kingdom of God to make itself manifest in the world, he added.

Participants said they found the day of recollection refreshing.

One of them, Julie, said she had wanted to experience something different on her off day. She said she felt very touched, comforted and strengthened by the spiritual input and prayers.

Another participant, Lorena, said the day of recollection “increases my faith and helps me to be a better Catholic”.

Lorena, who has worked in Singapore for five years and who is a member of the Legion of Mary, had brought along a good friend, a non-Catholic Christian, to the event.

According to organisers, the day of recollection was the first of its kind organised by Kingsmead Centre for Filipinos, and was in response to Pope Francis’ encyclical Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), in which he urged Catholics to meet the needs of the community.

Fr Lester was also scheduled to lead a stay-in retreat for Filipinos at the Kingsmead Centre from July 31-Aug 2.

It is hoped that the recollection and the retreat help “participants re-experience and re-kindle the fire of God’s mercy and love in their hearts so that they in turn may kindle God’s presence in the hearts of their sisters and brothers in their own  … families, communities and places of work in Singapore,” said Fr Lester.