The parents of a slain Filipino migrant worker and a kidnapped priest are among those whose feet will be washed by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila during this year's Holy Thursday observance. Among the 12 people who will join the washing of the feet ritual
in the Philippine capital is Father Teresito Suganob, who was held hostage by extremist gunmen last year. The 57-year-old priest from the Prelature of Marawi had been working for Christian-Muslim dialogue in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao prior to his capture in May. "Even after his agonizing ordeal as a hostage ... he still believes in promoting understanding and peace among peoples," read a statement from Manila Cathedral. Father Suganob has been described as a "living witness and beacon of faith and communion" during the celebration of the Year of the Clergy and Consecrate Life" in the Philippines.
The parents of Joanna Demafelis, a migrant worker found dead inside a freezer in Kuwait, are also included on the list of Cardinal Tagle's "12 Apostles." Demafelis' parents, Crisanto and Eva, have become "witnesses" to the plight of Filipinos working abroad who risk their safety to give their families back home a decent life. The maid's mutilated body was found in January inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Kuwait, where she worked for a Lebanese man and his Syrian wife. Authorities said she had likely been dead for more than a year. The washing of the feet ritual
is traditionally done on Holy Thursday, to commemorate Jesus' washing of the feet of his apostles. Last year, Cardinal Tagle washed the feet of drug users and policemen
as a "gesture of peace" after thousands were reported killed in the government's war against narcotics. Aside from Father Soganub and Demafelis' parents, the Manila prelate will also wash the feet of a foreign couple, who sought refuge in the Philippines due to religious persecution. "This is a new mission for the Philippine Church, opening our arms to our Christian brethren who suffer persecution in their country," said Cardinal Tagle. The statement from Manila Cathedral said the Holy Thursday ritual aims to raise awareness about the plight of refugees. The Philippine bishops' migrant ministry reported that there are about 30 refugees, mostly from Pakistan, being cared for by the local church. There are also about 600 other refugees and asylum seekers registered with the government, the majority of them are from Iran, Syria, Pakistan, and Somalia. Representatives of urban poor dwellers, tribal people who fled their homes because of the armed conflict in Mindanao, and soldiers will also be part of the ritual. They were chosen to heed the call of Pope Francis to "embrace all those fleeing from war and hunger, or forced by discrimination, persecution, poverty and environmental degradation to leave their homelands.
Support UCA News...
As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.
That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.
Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.
UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.
We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.
Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...