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Feb 05 19, 12:22 pm

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Filipinos brave sea of people in Papal Mass in Abu Dhabi, manifest abundance of faith

by | EDITOR’S CHOICE, TOP STORIES

Feb. 05, 19 | 12:22 pm

Thousands of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the United Arab Emirates manifested their abundance of faith as they braved the sea of Catholic faithful who came to witness the historic Papal Mass concelebrated by His Holiness Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church, today, February 5, 2019.

Many of them had camped out in Abu Dhabi the night before and past midnight of February 5, they trooped to the Zayed Sports City Stadium to hear the message of the Pontiff.

The historic event took place in time for ‘The Year of Tolerance’ in the UAE, which emphasizes respect towards all religions, without hatred or discrimination. According to the latest estimate, the first-ever Papal Mass done in the Arabian Peninsula saw 180,000 people in attendance.

The Filipinos who attended today’s Papal Mass described the event a sight to behold. The stadium became an avenue for the Catholic faithful in the Middle East, dominated by Islam religion, to observe their faith, which reflects how the UAE encourages tolerance and respect for all in the fabrics of society.

The mass also saw a 120-member choir, composed mostly of Filipinos, with Filipina conductress Joy Santos who spearheaded the multi-cultural member of the choir that sang hymns in English, Arabic, and Latin.

Filipino community lauds UAE’s invitation to Pope Francis

Various Filipino community leaders conveyed their deep appreciation to the UAE Government for making the Pontiff’s visit to the UAE possible, which kicked off on February 3. The visit of the Pontiff is a positive response to the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the UAE together with His Eminence Dr Ahmad At-Tayyeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif, who welcomed the Pope as he arrived from the Vatican.

In the words of Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Hjayceelyn Quintana, “Filipinos in the Emirates and the Arab region, the majority of whom are Catholics, are overjoyed to have this once in a lifetime opportunity to be blessed with the presence of Pope Francis in their midst.”

The Pope visit, she said, will not only strengthen the faith of the Catholic community but will inspire them to live with humility, compassion, and generosity.

Meanwhile, Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See, Grace Relucio Princesa, who also served as the Philippine ambassador to the UAE from 2009 to 2015, shared that Pope Francis loves being called Lolo Kiko. “We call him Lolo Kiko. He loves the name. When we say Lolo Kiko, he knows we’re from the Philippines,” Princesa said in a voice message that The Filipino Times got hold of from Vatican News.

“Some of my Filipino friends texted me. They were quick on the internet saying, ‘The Pope is coming, we’re ecstatic!” Princesa said, adding that the Pope’s visit to the UAE is a testament of the country as a place of tolerance.

“This visit is epochal, the first-ever visit of a Pope (to the Arabian Peninsula) and it comes at a moment when the world needs to see different faiths believing in the commonality of our humanity – of human dignity. That’s what this visit personifies,” she said.

Princesa said the visit is also “a validation of the UAE as a country that welcomes all beliefs” and says that the magnificent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, where Pope Francis will meet the Muslim Council of Elders “is not just a place of worship: it’s a place of culture and of friendship.”

The Philippines remains to be the bastion of Christianity in Asia. More than 86 million Filipinos, which accounts for 93 percent of a total population of 93.3 million, are Catholics, making it the third largest Catholic country in the world.

Pope Francis comforts weeping OFW in UAE, gives her rosary

The Holy See’s visit is definitely a boost for Catholic faithful in the UAE, and a personal encounter with His Holiness is a memory that an overseas Filipina worker will have for the rest of her life.

OFW Sally Mallari cried when she was given an opportunity to meet Pope Francis in Abu Dhabi, February 4.

As seen in a video uploaded on Facebook, Mallari cannot contain her tears as cleric members tell her not to cry when she found out that she was going to meet the Pope.

His Holiness, along with his aide, can be seen walking towards her and the Filipina timidly approaches the Pontiff.

Then, Mallari kisses the hand of His Holiness to pay respect.

A few hours after her encounter with the Holy See, Mallari posted on Facebook a rosary that was personally given to her by the Pope.

#PopeFrancis takes over Twitter

Pope Francis’ historic visit to the UAE also took over the Twitterverse as six out of 10 trending topics talk about the pontiff on the social media site.

As of press time, the hashtag #PopeFrancisUAE is the second trending topic on Twitter in the UAE, while Papal Mass is in the third spot.

The topics Historical Liturgy and Pope Francis in the Emirates are also among the trending topics placing fifth and seventh, respectively.

Pope Francis is also among the Top 10 trending topics on Twitter in the UAE in the last 24 hours.

The Papal Visit marks the 1st visit of a Pope to the MENA region. Themed ‘Make Me a Channel of Your Peace’, the visit is a positive response of the pontiff and the Vatican to the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the UAE.

Pope Francis shares photos of his historic visit to UAE

On Feb. 5, Pope Francis had a shout out to the world, and it was a series of photos showing the tolerance of faith and religion that the UAE observes among the more than 200 nationalities that work and live in the country.

In his own Instagram account, Pope Francis showed some of the highlights of his eventful visit.

“God is with those who seek peace. From heaven He blesses every step which, on this path, is accomplished,” the Holy See captioned the photos.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

EN: God is with those who seek peace. From heaven He blesses every step which, on this path, is accomplished. PT: Deus está com o homem que busca a paz. E do céu abençoa cada passo que se realiza, neste caminho, sobre a terra. ES: Dios está con el hombre que busca la paz. Y desde el cielo bendice cada paso que se da en la tierra por este camino. IT: Dio sta con l’uomo che cerca la pace. E dal cielo benedice ogni passo che, su questa strada, si compie sulla terra. FR: Dieu est avec l’homme qui cherche la paix. Et du ciel il bénit chaque pas qui, en ce sens, s’accomplit sur la terre. DE: Gott ist bei jedem Menschen, der den Frieden sucht. Und vom Himmel aus segnet er jeden Schritt, der hier auf Erden auf diesem Weg gegangen wird. PL: Bóg jest z człowiekiem, który dąży do pokoju. I z nieba błogosławi każdy krok, który na tej drodze jest podejmowany na ziemi. #apostolicjourney #uae

A post shared by Pope Francis (@franciscus) on

 

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THE FILIPINO TIMES is the biggest and most trusted Filipino newspaper in the UAE.

It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 1 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

THE FILIPINO TIMES. We are where the Filipinos are.

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