The day before Lunar New Year, Fr. Joseph, the priest responsible for pastoral care of the foreign community and seamen, recounts in his Peace Weekly column how he spent the day.
The members of the Filipino community
began to make their way to the cathedral parish, where every Sunday
afternoon at 4:00 he celebrates an English Mass for the foreign
Catholics in the diocese. However, since the Koreans during this festive
time would be with their families, the Filipinos were also anxious to
be with their fellow Filipinos and the place they decided on was the
cathedral parish, to play bingo, eat and enjoy each others' company.
asked him to start off their time together with a prayer. He was taken
by surprise by the request, but made the sign of the cross and said a
prayer. He turned
the microphone over to the master of ceremonies. The emcee, like the
emcee at a racetrack or a TV variety show, began with
eloquence and skill to set the atmosphere for their time together.
Everyone enjoyed his speech and bodily movements, joining in with
The meeting place was separated from the sisters' convent only
by a wall so Fr. Joseph was somewhat concerned what the sisters
would be thinking. The possibility for the sisters to spend a quiet
weekend was seemingly in doubt. What was he to do? he wondered. The
Filipinos had come together to enjoy each others company, to laugh and to celebrate the holiday--and of course to play bingo.
Joesph mentioned his experience overseas in pastoral work where he had
seen bingo parties before, but they were all very serene and calmly
directed events. This one was very different. The Filipinos were
shouting with laughter, a veritable variety show. All this was going on
the numbers were taken out of a container and read off to the players.
Each player was busy trying to fill cards with the numbers:
horizontally, vertically, diagonally. He doesn't know those who were
successful, but he knew all were having a lot of fun.
Fr. Joseph ends his column by comparing a bingo card to a person's life: at times as complicated and varied as trying to win at bingo. There were times when the players had all that was necessary to shout bingo, he says, but not knowing it, they waited for another
number. At times they were dazzled when others were winning, and often
chose to turn in their card for another, thinking it would bring them the winning numbers. He has, he
says, in his own hand a bingo card. Will the winning numbers be horizontal, vertical or diagonal? "Lord," he asks," today what will be my reason to shout bingo?"