ARCHDIOCESAN FILIPINO CATHOLIC MISSION (AFCM )
OUR LADY OF THE ASSUMPTION CHURCH
2565 Bathurst St., Toronto ON M6B 2Z3
Rev. Fr. Bienvenido P. Ebcas, Jr. – Pastor and Mission Director
The Archdiocese of Toronto thru His Grace Bishop Richard Grecco has done a great favor to thousands of Filipino Catholics by establishing the ARCHDIOCESAN FILIPINO CATHOLIC MISSION, the appropriate appointment and installation on August 31, 2008 of a great shepherd and exceptional homilist, Rev. Fr. Bienvenido P. Ebcas, Jr. as the first Mission Director. This shows the concern and response of the Catholic Church to the pastoral needs of the changing Filipino demographics in Toronto in particular and Ontario in general.
The home of AFCM is the beautiful and spacious Our Lady of the Assumption Church located at the West End of Toronto. As they come to worship, the Filipino Community feels a welcoming emotional spirit. We are a family of Filipino-Canadians, Canadian-born Filipinos, and Filipino foreign workers. Answering the Call to Mission in a variety of ways and for varying amounts of time, Prayer groups, Lay Movements and Lay people are increasingly visible in Pastoral Assemblies and are presently vibrant components of AFCM.
AFCM – one year after by August 30, 2009
AFCM commits to protect, preserve and enrich God-given faith, religious traditions of the Filipino faithful and to serve increasing pastoral needs through the COUNCIL OF THE LAITY formalized by Rev. Fr. Ben Ebcas following a comprehensive position audit, observation, data gathering and group assessment. AFCM strengthens the CHURCH presence and perpetuates Christ’s Mission among Filipino communities through solemn worship, prayers, accurate teachings, formation, service, solidarity and belongingness. Five MINISTRIES comprise the Council of Laity, an advisory body to the Mission Director – WORSHIP, EDUCATION/ FORMATION, SOCIAL CONCERNS, TEMPORALITIES and YOUTH.
AFCM is unique with special gifts rooted in distinct Filipino language, culture and Christian heritage. However, AFCM is part of the much greater Christian community of the Archdiocese of Toronto and the Universal Church. As the completely Holy Church plans for the future, AFCM follows. The marked increase of Filipino Churchgoers attending Mass, Fiestas, devotions and other events mapped in the calendar of activities express what AFCM is all about. AFCM is a stewardship entity – a servant community and does her best to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
AFCM is adept at embracing the challenges of the future. Rev. Fr. Ben Ebcas envisions a dynamic faith community with a full task of integrating, coordinating and acting on Catholic social teaching.
After twenty-eight years of service to Filipinos as Filipino Chaplaincy, an Ecumenical Parish provided a strong foundation for the major transition that is now AFCM.
THE FILIPINO CHAPLAINCY in the past two decades
Originally, the Filipino Chaplaincy was located at Blessed John XXIII Catholic Church, in Gateway Blvd., Don Mills, Ontario. In 1980, His Excellency Aloysius Ambrosic then Apostolic Vicar of the Ethnic Apostolate established the Filipino Chaplaincy together with other ethnic groups in their own parishes. As a service arm authorized by the Catholic Church, the Filipino Chaplaincy distinctly caters, ministers, regulates all the beautiful religious celebrations, and responds to spiritual needs of Filipinos within the Archdiocese.
The first appointed Filipino Chaplain was the late Rev. Fr. Ted Valencia former Associate Pastor at St. Basil’s Church in downtown Toronto. In 1984, Rev. Fr. Rudy Imperial assumed the Chaplaincy at St. Basil’s Church. In 1987, the Archdiocese of Toronto assigned Rev. Fr. Rudy as the Pastor of Blessed John XXIII Church in Don Mills. Shepherding the multicultural Parish alongside the Filipino Chaplaincy occupied Rev. Fr. Rudy from 1984 to his retirement in 2005. Rev. Fr. Rudy supported and perpetuated all Filipino religious traditions faithfully observed in the Philippines such as Christmas Novena and December 24 midnight Mass, Lenten activities such as “Pabasa”, “Huling Pitong Wika”, “Salubong”, and “Flores de Mayo” during the month of May. Knowing that the Christianization of the Philippines commenced in Cebu, the Feast of Santo Niño de Cebu every 3rd Sunday of January is unique and edifying. The Chaplaincy also celebrates great Feast days of Our Lady of Manaoag, San Lorenzo Ruiz, Blessed Pedro Calungsod, St. Joseph, St. Anthony, Poong Nazareno, Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and Saint Therese.
As Fr. Rudy retired, the Archdiocese appointed Rev. Fr. Mark Villanueva as the successor of the Filipino Chaplaincy. Given the unique religious, socio-cultural tradition and specific needs of Filipinos in Toronto, Rev. Fr. Mark addressed the pastoral needs of the Filipino community and the acute problem of space management at the Filipino Chaplaincy. Clamor for a larger space where Filipinos can feel much at home became earnest. Serious consultations within Lay Filipino Groups embedded with deep spiritual discernment by the Council of Filipino Clergy led to a clear direction for the Filipino Chaplaincy.
In May 2008, Rev. Fr. Mark revealed the Filipino Chaplaincy, would be renamed Archdiocesan Filipino Catholic Mission and relocated to a new home Parish at Our Lady of Assumption Church effective August 31, 2008.
Demonstrating faith in action, Rev. Fr. Ben Ebcas through the Social Ministry formed the Grassroots Hub (G-Hub) advocating for caregivers at the same time launching the Juana Tejada Lounge. In addition, Misang Gabi 2008 for nine days generated more than 7,000 CAD of voluntary love offering and Rev. Fr. Ben Ebcas sent this amount to an Orphanage in the Philippines for a much needed financial assistance.
Rev. Fr. Ben indicated the start of a comprehensive new leaf for AFCM. Essentially, the Filipino Catholic Mission boils down to relationship with Our Holy Triune God and our relationships with our neighbors, He also emphasized a major component … ”LOVE GOD – LOVE PEOPLE – LIVE LIKE JESUS”… He challenges everyone to proclaim the Good News; demonstrate the love bestowed upon us thru Jesus by teaching and nurturing new Christians; follow Jesus‘ example to feed, heal, and comfort by responding to human needs through loving service and stand with Jesus in His Christian TRANSFORMATION of unjust structures of society.
Written by: Zeny Uy