The Catholic Parish in Jaffa celebrates their patron, Saint Anthony of Jaffa, this June 10, 2023, the nearest Saturday around his feast day (June 13) to foster the pastoral needs not only of the local Arab Catholic community but also to accommodate the migrant workers and their families who gathers for weekly Mass on Saturdays.
As the celebration is multicultural with the participation of the Arabs, Filipinos, Africans, Latin Americans, Indians, Sri Lankans, Polish and the Hebrew Speaking community, different colors and customs were included at that festive afternoon.
A procession from Saint Peter’s Church to the Parish Church started the feast. Each participating community announced the joy of the feast to spectators along streets with joyful band music coupled with traditional festive dances.
The Custos of the Holy Land, fr. Francesco Patton, presided over the Holy Mass concelebrated by the Parish Priest, Fr. Agustin Pelayo, together with priests of the guardianship of Jaffa and other guest priests. Doubling the feast, the community also celebrated the Confirmation of 8 Filipino children, and the First Communion of 14 African children and an Arab child.
In occasion of receiving these sacraments, the Custos highlighted the deep devotion of Saint Anthony to the Body and Blood of Christ and to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Custos reminded the First Communicants that whenever they receive communion, they receive truly Christ. He added that the Body and Blood of Christ is not like normal food taken which is transformed to become part of the body, in the contrary, receiving Christ means we are transformed to be part of His Body, becoming sons and daughters of God.
Meanwhile, the Custos addressed the Confirmands that to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit is very important because the Spirit of God is the breath of God. Thus, to receive the breath of God is to breathe with the same breath of God which makes us alive assuming roles inside the Body of Christ, the Church. At the end, he encouraged them to ask the Holy Spirit every day to know the will of God to serve the Body of Christ.
At the end of the Mass, the traditional distribution of the blessed bread of Saint Anthony followed. Before distributing the bread to the people, the Custos reminded them that like in the Mass, the bread that they will receive is a sign of communion within the parish community of Saint Anthony which is one in faith but diverse in culture and in language.
Thus, after the celebration of faith through the Sacraments, the community also showed their thanksgiving through the celebration of their rich cultural heritage through the sharing of food and presentation of cultural dance, music and songs.
fra Mark Vertido Palafox, ofm