Thinking of home
COVID’s reach has extended into so many areas of our lives and no more so than preventing families from gathering. It’s been especially tough for our overseas born priests who will be apart from their families this festive season. The Catholic Voice invited four of them to share their thoughts about their families at this time.
Fr Adrian Chan – Assistant parish priest St Patrick’s, Cooma
Back in Singapore, I have my Mum, Dad, my brother, sister-in-law and, of course, the extended family, including my one-hundred100-year-old granny. And that’s the one that I really miss not being able to see this year or even at Christmas. But I’m hoping to go back sometime later next year to see them and celebrate her one hundred and first 101st birthday. I ring them regularly and I’m never too far away from them where my heart is concerned.
When it comes to Christmas, Singapore is quite westernised. We would have Christmas turkey and pasta and maybe Asian dishes like rice. Maybe also chicken curry because it is our favourite. Midnight Mass is important to us, although this year Singapore is still in kind of a semi-lockdown and there are restrictions with the number allowed at Mass.
Fr Yoseph (Joe) Neonbasu – Assistant parish priest St Mary’s, Young
My family are in Indonesia with my mother and my siblings. My Dad passed away two years ago. I’ve got seven brothers and sisters and two of my brothers are priests.
I haven’t been able to get home for two years because of COVID. I miss them and I sometimes get homesick. At Christmas my siblings go home and celebrate with Mum because she is by herself. That’s normally my brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces and nephews and grandnieces. It’s always a great celebration and my Mum looks forward to it.
Fr Pale Leota – Parish priest St Peter’s, Pambula
Most of my family is back home in Samoa. My parents are in their early eighties I last saw them two years ago. I can’t wait for the borders to reopen so I can get the chance and go back and see them. The COVID restrictions are a bit different back there than here. The situation there is pretty much normal. Christmas is traditionally a big celebration for us, except I won’t be able to be with them again this time. I have two siblings and a lot of close relatives like aunts, uncles and cousins.
It’s truly something we have realised, missing being with the families. Being able to spend time with them, and having them support us as well, is a most vital part of our ministry.
Fr James Antony – Parish priest Corpus Christi, Gowrie
I’ve got my dad and one of my sisters back in India in the state of Kerala. Another sister is a nun in Germany where she heads up an aged care facility. My family is all over the world now. I normally don’t go to my family at Easter or Christmas because my primary service is to the people in my parishes. I normally try to get home in January or early February and spend time with my family then.
My Dad’s life revolves around the church in Kerala. It’s a huge thing for families in Kerala to make nativity cribs at Christmas in their own homes, along with Christmas trees and decorations. There’s prizes involved. For spiritual preparation families attend daily Mass and then gather for an extended family get-together for Christmas.
It is so generous of these men to be so far away from home, caring for us. I was a great admirer of the singing in the church in Samoa.