2017
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Feast in Tel Aviv-Jaffa for the Latin American and Filipino community

This moment of sharing annually brings together the two Latin American communities of Tel Aviv-Jaffa and Ramleh. The two communities follow the traditions of the State of Israel, and so they work from Sunday to Friday. They only rest on the Sabbath and gather for the celebration of the Holy Mass in their respective localities. Sixteen kilometers separate the two communities, but this does not prevent there from being moments of fraternal sharing and religious and recreational activities. The largest of these celebrations is that of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the entire American continent and of the Philippines, which was celebrated on December 16. For the first time in the Holy Land, the solemnity also brought together the other communities present in Jaffa, and in a special way, the Filipino community.

“With great joy, all of the faithful of our Latin American chaplaincy did their best of them to prepare the feast,” said Br. Agustín G. Pelayo Fregoso, superior of St. Anthony’s monastery in Jaffa. “Some have been here for more than 20 years, but they said that this year was one of the most beautiful feasts ever celebrated.”

The mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe was not held in the church of St. Peter for the occasion, because a great number of faithful were expected to attend.
“Preparing this feast took us a short time,” said Br. Agustín. “Our Lady knows how to get to the heart of all of her children; we share a common language and history and we are open to welcoming each other, despite being from different places. We are from many countries but we are all Christians and Latinos and these two characteristics allow us to overcome many difficulties.”
For the important celebration, the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Mons. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, was invited to preside over the Spanish mass. The new Apostolic Nuncio to Israel attended the celebration, along with priests and representatives of the various Latin American and Philippine embassies. The church was festively decorated with a large quantity of roses to recall the miracle of the flowers that appeared on the mantle of Juan Diego, to whom Our Lady appeared in 1531.

For the occasion, a representation of the Tepeyac Hill, north of Mexico City, on which the Virgin appeared to Juan Diego, was set up.
In the religious celebration, the languages spoken in South America were used, in addition to Tagalog, while the homily, given by Fr. Agustín, was in Spanish and English, just as the songs were during the entire Eucharistic liturgy.

After mass, a small procession took place to the parish church of St. Anthony where, after the blessing with the icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Fiesta Latina began. Each chaplain and their countrymen prepared different types of foods that would represent their nation and culture. “It was not important if we had a small amount of people from one country or many more from another; we all feasted,” said the superior of the church in Jaffa. “Our families are mixed, many of our faithful are married to Jews and they too have certainly felt welcomed by our community. We wished them a happy Hanukkah.”

The communities launched a beautiful rosary of balloons into the air, thus representing the desire for peace for the Holy Land. Then the cultural representations and dances of the different countries began, giving a festive touch and a great spirit of unity, even in the diversity of the Latino communities in Israel.

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