JERSEY CITY, NJ — In the East Coast, Filipino-American priests took a break from their church responsibilities to come together for a friendly competition.
These Filipino priests took off their robes and donned shorts for the 2017 Pari-lympics in Jersey City.
It’s the Filipino Clergy Association of America’s version of an Olympic Sportsfest.
“Pari-lympics po is a way of our celebrating the feast of St. Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney, the patron saint of all priests, so in order to celebrate that… the priests of the tristate, or the FILCAA, we gather together different events and sports,” said Fr. Ver Tolentino, pastor of Our Lady of Fatama in Piscataway.
From the dwindling number of new priests, to the lack of health care coverage — coming together for Sportsfest allows these Pinoy priests to talk about issues affecting them and the Catholic Church.
“We had no Medical coverage until one is incardinated… sometimes it takes 5 years, we had to fight for it, there’s no dental insurance, we had to fight for it, now we have it… 3 months after a priest comes from the Philippines,” said Msgr. Jerry Rebanal.
They also say they would not have gotten these benefits had they not been organized as a united group of Filipino clergies.
“We had to fight for it, remember in any profession in life, occupation in life, there’s always that struggle for recognition,” said Rebanal. “It gives us a voice by which we could be heard.”