A Momentous and Historic Event – A Personal Reflection
I thought this article would document in a way the first Filipino Mass ever performed in NY Ozone Park’s St. Mary Gates of Heaven Church’ (SMGHC), in its over 100 years of existence. SMGHC has welcomed another community to celebrate the Holy Mass in their native language, the first of which was held on December 29,2010, and the second one on February 6, 2011. It was wonderful to see all Filipino-Americans and fellow countrymen parishioners flocking to the Church and celebrating the said event with some merry making and food to share after the Mass. Such occasion affirmed the Church commitment to make and feel its parishioners connected and “at home”, as if they are in their native land!
In coordination with the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, the Church administration has also approved the proposal to hold Mass in Pilipino or Tagalog once a month in the said Church or every 1st Sunday of the month. This is a significant milestone in SMGHC’s history and also to Filipino migrants living within the Ozone Park and the nearby Richmond Hill areas as they would now have the opportunity to attend Mass in their native tongue. A walking distance from SMHGC, the Church of the Holy Child Jesus likewise holds mass in Tagalog or Pilipino language every 2nd Sunday of the month. Thus, with this development, there would be now two Filipino masses that will be held every month within the vicinity of the said areas.
It feels great and likewise a blessing for our choir to be part of this momentous event. Our choir is relatively in its infancy stage but we hope to develop talents and add new stuffs to the group from both Churches’ parishioners. I could say that with the way it is presently going coupled with a sense of commitment and dedication to the service from the members, the group is pretty evolving to deliver a more vibrant, exciting and correct way of singing liturgical music despite constraints.
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Presently, SMGHC has diverse parishioners with over thousands of families composing the church. It is being administered by the Missionaries of the Company of Mary, also known as Montfort Missionaries, a catholic religious congregation which originated in France in the 18th century.
Upon entering the Church edifice, I was surprised to see some unique features which make it amazingly beautiful! Personally, I was awed by the altar’s beauty and architecture with the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the backdrop. It is large and spacious like a mini St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan! But of course how can I miss to mention the elevated choir loft at the left side of the church! This will now serve as my third home (being the Holy Child Jesus Church as my second home). I liked it so much especially its acoustic properties and the sound system which made the choir’s voices much better!
Fr. Richard Magararu a Montfort Filipino priest on U.S. mission played a pivotal role to make this occasion realizable and successful. So, Fr. Richard, kudos for the job well done and may God continue to bless you more with courage to preach the good news not only to your home countrymen but to all of the parishioners as well, especially those in need
(photo property of myusefultips.com-not for reproduction)