Filipino Mass launched

By 
  • August 25, 2008

{mosimage}TORONTO- The first weekly Filipino-language Mass in Toronto begins at the end of this month in the new home of the city’s Filipino Catholic Mission.

Starting Aug. 31, Our Lady of the Assumption Church near Bathurst and Eglinton will celebrate Sunday Masses at 5 p.m. in Tagalog, the Philippine national language.

Fr. Ben Ebcas, the mission’s new pastor, said having Our Lady of the Assumption Church as the base for the Filipino Catholic mission provides a “home” for Filipino Catholics in the city.

The previous Filipino Catholic Mission was located at Blessed John XXIII parish, which shares a building with a Presbyterian church community. And the parishes in the Greater Toronto Area which offer Tagalog Masses only hold them once a month.

Ebcas added that the mission will open up a new avenue for “culturally inclined liturgies” such as Filipino novenas, fiestas, traditional Filipino weddings and Mass celebrated in its national language.

Some Filipino Catholics said having a weekly Filipino-language Mass celebrates the cultural diversity found in Toronto parishes.

“Our multicultural parishes create rainbow-like images of how we can collaborate and bring more vibrancy and colour to our parish communities,” according to a statement from the Filipino group Bukas Loob sa Dios Covenant Community.

Ebcas is originally from Leyte, a southwestern province in the Philippines, where he taught in the seminary. He holds a masters in pastoral ministry and psychology. Ebcas came to Canada in 1996 to study crisis intervention and counselling at Durham College in Oshawa, Ont. After earning a diploma at Durham College, he was invited to be a pastor in the archdiocese of Toronto.

Ebcas is the former pastor of St. Barnabas Catholic Church where he said 60 to 70 per cent of its 15,000 parishioners come from a Filipino background. He said what he will miss about his previous parish is the vibrant church community.

“The church is full always, especially during weekday Masses,” he said. “Some people even have to go home because there is no more space.”

Ebcas added that he’s optimistic this will happen at his new parish because of the number of Filipinos attending church there, about 7,000 people, he said.

According to a 2007 Statistics Canada report, there are 165,000 Filipino Canadians in Ontario. In Canada, the Filipino community is the third largest non-European ethnic group at about 328,000 people. Eighty per cent of Filipino Canadians are Catholic, Statistics Canada reported.

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