Name: Fr. Carlos Tupaz Macatangga, SVD
Place of Birth: Quezon City, Philippines
Elementary School: Sacred Heart School in Quezon City
High School: Judge Juan Luna High School in Quezon City
1. Could you please describe how you came to be in Canada?
I am a religious missionary of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). There are more than 6,000 SVD priests and brothers working in 70 countries. I was ordained religious priest in 2004 in Techny, Illinois (USA). Just after my ordination, my religious superior assigned me to work in Canada specifically to open our SVD Mission in the Archdiocese of Toronto making me the first SVD missionary in the Archdiocese.
2. Describe your experience of growing up, living, and/or working in Canada?
I came to Toronto, Canada in February of 2005 to open our SVD Mission. The first parish entrusted to us was Saint John Bosco in Toronto. It is a small parish but the masses are celebrated in: Italian, Portuguese and English. I was sent to Toronto with the assumption that we would be working with the Portuguese community and English. I came here without any word of Italian. However, because of the Italian community, I spent a good year learning to read and to speak Italian with the help of one of our parishioners. It was not easy but it was needed in order for us to serve the people entrusted to our pastoral care. The first year was a period of adjustment for them as well as for me: a young Filipino priest serving the Italian and the Portuguese communities. After five years at Saint John Bosco, I was assigned to be Pastor of Cristo Rei Parish and Ss. Salvador do Mundo Parish in Mississauga. Ss. Salvador do Mundo is a personal parish for the Portuguese Community in Mississauga and Etobicoke while Cristo Rei Parish is a territorial parish serving four elementary schools and one secondary school. Cristo Rei is also a very multicultural parish with parishioners coming from Portugal, India, Philippine, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Italy, the Caribbean, China, Poland and many other countries.
3. What are some of your major accomplishments? What were/are some of your major struggles?
Let me begin with some of my struggles:
My first big challenge here at Cristo Rei was to bring together the people from many different languages and cultures primarily between the Portuguese Community and the English Community. For almost 15 years, Cristo Rei was mainly a Portuguese Church built by the Portuguese immigrants in Mississauga. It was elevated to a territorial status when I took over the pastoral administration of the parish. It was a big adjustment from the part of the Portuguese community who was afraid that they would lose the church they have built. And the person who was given the task of bringing together these people from different cultures was a Filipino priest. So, one of the things that I did was to develop activities and celebrations that would bring people together to One Family of Faith. It was not easy at the beginning but then community never gave up. Now, we are harvesting the fruits of that labor.
Three years ago, I was also appointed Superior for the SVD in Canada. In addition to my pastoral commitments and responsibilities in the two parishes, I was also given the task to coordinate our SVD Mission in Canada (in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario) and to accompany and serve the 15 SVD priests and brothers working in Canada.
- Probably, one of our accomplishments through the grace of God is the creation of One Family of Faith in our parish. People still have difficulty understanding and communicating with one another because of language but they have reached out to one another because they have become familiar to one another. Our many processions and religious and cultural activities have provided them with venues and contexts to pray, eat, celebrate and work together.
- Two years after I was appointed pastor of Cristo Rei, the parish made a commitment to help our poor brothers and sisters. Working with ANCOP Canada, our parish community was able to raise funds to establish CRISTO REI VILLAGE in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro. We funded the construction of: 18 Mangyan designed houses, 2 houses used as Day Care Center and Stock room, and 1 Multi purpose center. In addition, we also continue to support the education of the adults and children in this village as well as their livelihood.
- I also opened the House of Mary Chapel in our church that serves as a place for the veneration of the images of the Blessed Mother coming from Portugal, Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Poland, Mexico.
- We also have our monthly prayers for vocations and for the missions with our SVD Partners in Mission. To date, we have two seminarians for the SVD (they are currently in the Chicago), one seminarian for the Archdiocese of Toronto, one candidate for permanent diaconate, and another candidate for another religious community in Toronto.
- Last year, I also established in the parish our Prayer Shawl Ministry. This ministry serves our parishioners and their loved ones who are terminally ill, battling with cancer or just lost a loved one. In an evening of praise and healing (usually last Friday of each month) we offer them a prayer shawl knitted by the senior group of the parish with a commitment that we will pray for them continuously.
4. What are some of future goals that you envision for yourself and for the Filipino community in Canada?
One of the goals of our missionary activities is invite people to live in a more multicultural communities. Cristo Rei Parish is a very intercultural in the sense that we have people coming to this church from different countries, languages, cultures and beliefs. They are all welcome here. However, to make our community more multicultural it is not enough that we invite them to come. We also need to invite them to participate and to take responsibility in the life of our parish community. All our parishioners are invited and welcomed to share their faith, their cultures, their gifts to the whole parish community. We become richer when we share with one another the gifts that we have.
The Filipino community in Canada has a lot to share, to offer and to give to this country. This is true of the Filipino community in my parish. Our faith, our love for our families, our resilience in times of trials and difficulties, our perseverance in all our undertakings, our creativity and good sense of humor are just some of the precious gifts we have received and we could share to others.
As Filipinos we need to encourage and motivate our “kababayans” (fellow Filipinos) to be proud of our heritage, of who we are and who we can become. It will be impossible to share our gifts if we do not even acknowledge and are not even proud of these gifts. It is my fervent hope that we continue to appreciate and to celebrate who we are so that when we live in a more multicultural community we do not lose our identity as Filipinos but people will recognize us as Filipinos and as Canadians.
Our celebration of Canada’s 150th Anniversary last July 1st is a picture of this reality. People came to our Eucharistic celebration wearing their national costumes and traditional dresses but on their hand they were only holding one flag: the Canadian flag.