Hundreds of Catholic migrants celebrate Christmas in Taipei

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(CNA photo)

Over 500 members of northern Taiwan's Catholic community celebrated Christmas with performances and prayers Sunday at a Taipei church devoted to helping migrants feel at home while working here.

The Christmas celebration was organized by St. Christopher's Church in Taipei and has been an important annual event of the church since its establishment in 1958.

Father Edward Pacquing, the church's parish priest, told CNA that celebrating Christmas in Taiwan is a very special event for Christian migrants because it helps them connect with their traditions and cultures back home.

The life of a migrant is not easy. Many times it is filled with sadness, loneliness and other emotions that people can easily encounter when they go abroad, far from their loved ones, he said.

Even though some migrants have families here in Taiwan, there are also many who are in the country alone, and the church organizes these events to help them feel like they are part of a family where they can share their love, care and blessings, Pacquing said.

This year, some eight groups in the church competed for the "Best Santa Claus" award with dance and theater performances reflecting Christmas values and blessings.

The Altar Servers group at the church won the top prize for their performance of a poor family led by a father who did not believe in Santa Claus but eventually does so after his family receives gifts for Christmas.

"The play is about sharing gifts and learning to love others," according to the play's director, Anne Marie Lapig, a Filipina migrant worker from the province of Bulacan.

Another popular performance at the event was a heartwarming dance by children of Filipino migrants from the church's Youth Ministry, led by Sister Kim Patricia Habana.

"Christmas is a very special day for Filipinos, so to celebrate the tradition here in Taiwan is very special for the children, because they usually don't get to celebrate it the way we celebrate it in the Philippines, where it involves the whole community and the church," she said.

Meanwhile, the Vietnamese community from the church performed a dance routine and invited the audience to join in, to celebrate Christmas as one.

The membership of St. Christopher's Church includes around 3,000 Filipinos and 200 Vietnamese, Pacquing said, adding that over 500 church members attended Sunday's event.