Online Newsletter Nr. 128
Philippine Community

From the Chaplain:

"Being a Filipino in a Filipino
   The Filipino catholic community in Berlin is known for its dynamism and lively faith. My assignment as chaplain here is an oppurtunity for me to be renewed and enriched by the deep piety and religiosity characteristic among my fellow countrymen.

   Finishing my theological studies and being ordained priest in Germany, I spent my first six years as missionary in this foreign land with it‘s difficult language and challenging mentality. Adapting to its western culture and integrating in its secular society tested my religious beliefs as well as purified my naive notions of being a christian. Unevitably, I imbibed certain unwanted theological attitudes which may simulate typical German protestantism but are unfortunately detrimental in accepting certain traditional catholic practices in the Philippines, which sometimes border in superstition and idolatry. Being so-called modern has its shadow: it tends to abhor the past and passé.

   Entrusted now with the work as a missionary priest among my fellow Filipinos (and especially Filipinas), I rediscover once again the joy of faith and its power to enlighten difficult situations. The German „Ernsthaftigkeit“ - which I unconsciously assimilated - gave way to a liberating and almost angelic „Gelassenheit“ - which is typical among my landsmen. This tranquility amidst the storms of life is rooted on a basic trust in God‘s loving providence. A Filipino may be beset by adversity, but this common life situation is no reason to lose one‘s smile and hope.
       The Filipino faith is by nature relation and person oriented. It will desist when secluded within private walls. It will thrive only in a context of community. The catholic Filipino community in Bayernallee reflects the cultural plurality of the metropolitan Berlin. It literally lives to its name of being universal, since it tolerates diversity of faith practices but still confesses to a binding Filipino faith, which defines and strengthens their young national identity.

       This multiplicity accounts for its vibrancy. The Philippines has a variety of cultures specific to its provinces but the Filipinos can still celebrate this colorful differences. They are still able to manage and get their acts together notwithstanding the strains of regional languages and dialects. Being catholic is crossing cultural borders. This means we learn how to respect and love the stranger among us, who is in some ways different from us despite our professed common nationality. A catholic Filipino in a foreign land knows the intrinsic value of this virtue, since this is a reality even in our homeland.

       My being as a chaplain in a Filipino faith-community in Berlin is God‘s blessing in my momentary station in life. His message for me is like: grow in faith where you are NOW planted and where you WERE ONCE planted. This is an invitation to treasure one‘s roots which are often unseen but give daily life.