Christmas Away from home

By Fr. Luis Sabarre, OMI

I remember the first Christmas I spent away from home in 1982, when I was sent to a small town to say the midnight mass. I thought that Christmas would be the same as I used to experience in my own place back home in the Philippines. I really missed the Christmas Carols I had learned and had sung when I was a small boy. I felt homesick for the first time.

Invitation and Surprise

A few years after I had mastered the Spanish language a bit I was invited to celebrate Christmas Eve with Filipino community in the Ambassador’s residence in Buenos Aires. For the celebration I tried to recall some Christmas song in my local Filipino language, but, to my surprise, I could not finish singing even one. I was embarrassed at myself and, to top it all, I was supposed to say the mass in Tagalog. Seeing that the community came from different regions of the country, I tried my best to switch from Cebuano to Tagalog to Ilonggo in prayers, in my homily, and some songs that I could remember at the moment.

Filipino Food

In spite of the lack of preparation for a meaningful celebration in a completely Filipino community, we did not feel really away from home. At the reception, the table was filled with typical. Filipino food such as pancit, lumpia dinugoan – which I for one, had not tasted for a long time, we gathered around the table after the mass and shared the sumptuous meal, beautifully arranged food we all longed for.


For a moment, I felt nostalgic. In the midst of our sharing, I remembered how on the same time occasion our family back home gathered together for the noche buena. A missionary away from home needs to have an open mind to accept the consequences of being away from home and to sacrifice his deepest feelings for his own family, customs and traditions.

Present and Future

After almost 14 years in this land of the gauchos (Argentian cowboys), being with married couples, young people in love, and family movements, I have learned to be come part of them. We get together to share our life, enjoy each other in free walks, caminatas, and support each other in pilgrimages and home visits. At this stage in my life, I feel happy at the way God has been leading me. I hope to continue the journey.