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A Sunday service full of compassion and love

A Sunday service full of compassion and love
Images of members of the St. Anglican Church congregation holding up "Status for All" signs or posters during a March 19 Sunday service in support of migrant workers were inspiring (Photo by Lui Queano)

Temperatures in Richmond, British Columbia, this morning were mild but brisk. When compared to Toronto, it’s not too bad. Even though the temperature was only three degrees Celsius, I felt perfectly comfortable in my normal workout clothes. The weather was actually perfect for a Sunday service.

Richmond British Columbia is such a beautiful and caring city. This is something I will never forget because this is where my son and his family entered with their approved International Student visas. After ten long years apart, I finally reunited with my son, his family, and my three beautiful grandchildren, aged 16, 12, and 6. When I left the Philippines, my son was a single, carefree adolescent trying to find himself. My son and I reconnected in Richmond, British Columbia, where he is now an adult but still has the look of a child seeking his father’s embrace. He hugged me so tightly I thought I was going to pass out. Maybe it was the desire for a father. I returned his embrace and assured him that I miss him dearly as well.

Rev. Laurel Dyksra of the Salal-Cedar (second from left), a ministry of the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster, posed
for a picture holding a “Status for All” poster alongside Chris Sorio (far left), the secretary general of Migrante Canada;
Grefa Pinera (third from left),the rector’s warden; and Erie Maestro of Migrante BC. (Photo by Lui Queano)

The plan was for everyone to meet up at church on Sunday and then head into downtown Vancouver for the “Status for All” rally. The flight from the Philippines to “kumustahan” was long and tiring, so they spent the entire day sleeping. That makes perfect sense to me. I told him over text that we can hang out at a friend’s place and maybe even spend the night.

Everyone at St. Mary the Virgin Church’s Sunday service welcomed me with open arms. Expedito Farinas, affectionately known as “Apo” by the locals, the church’s pastor, came to greet me and assured me that I would feel right at home in his congregation. Grefa Pinera, the Rector’s Warden, and the church pianist also introduced themselves and expressed a genuine desire for me to join the congregation. Perry and Tita Erie, two of my British Columbia-based friends, invited me to attend the mass held by Migrante BC as part of its Status for All campaign. The first reading was supposed to be performed by Tita Erie, but I wound up having to do it instead. Tita Erie just instructed me on how to conduct the first reading correctly. I never declined an invitation and always accepted them with enthusiasm. After reviewing the Sunday service reading schedule, I realised that Migrante would be responsible for the majority of the readings. Perry, a longtime friend of mine, is currently the people’s warden, a position for which I am completely unqualified.

St. Mary the Virgin Church, 808 East 50th Vancouver. (Photo by Erie Maestro)

Before the end of the Sunday service, “Apo” urged his congregation to support the plight of migrant workers by advocating for their demand for permanent status for all migrants. Apo contended that a devout Christian would take such measures to protect the rights and well-being of the helpless. Christians who truly follow Christ are concerned about the plight of the poor and powerless. Images of them holding up “Status for All” signs or posters were inspiring. Apo even ordered the congregation to raise their hands in unqualified demand for permanent residency as a show of solidarity with the migrants. I was moved by a photograph of a mother and child holding a “status for all” flyer.

A happy mother and her child smile for the camera in this photo in support of the Status for all campaign. (Photo by Erie Maestro)

After the church service, the congregation sat down to a meal together, where they likely discussed their struggles as immigrants and as a Christian family helping one another.

What I witnessed was a beautiful Sunday service that adhered to Christ’s teachings and focused on assisting the weak and vulnerable. This Sunday service was filled with compassion and love, much like my two lifelong best friends.