Fr. Anthony Ho of Precious Blood Parish in Surrey rallies his prayer groups to do something concrete for the poor by raising funds to build ANCOP houses
Fr. Anthony Ho (third from left) with Anita Aytona (far right) and Christine and Bob Patrie of Precious Blood Parish
The inspiration came during the group’s Marian pilgrimage to Europe organized by Fr. Ho himself in October 2014. Among those who joined were Tony and Anita Aytona who belong to the prayer group in Surrey, Greater Vancouver. The Aytonas are members of CFC ANCOP Vancouver lead team.
During dinner while at a stopover in France, Anita, a teacher at the Holy Cross High School in Surrey showed Fr. Ho photos of the school’s mission team that went for immersion to the Philippines in March 2014. Anita was also part of the mission of the team.
“ Some photos were taken while we were building houses,” Anita shared. “Other photos captured our interaction with the beneficiaries in ANCOP villages, and our visit to various outreach centers for the poor, the outcast, and the disabled.”
Anita told the pastor that another Holy Cross High School mission team will go the Philippines on March 2016. “The forty plus people who signed up have already started raising funds for the ANCOP houses they themselves would build,” she explained.
Fr. Ho was inspired by what he learned that there and then he stood up and announced that his prayer groups will help raise funds for the ANCOP houses.
Fr. Anthony Ho has taken under his wing 4 weekly prayer groups comprised by 100 members from Vancouver and Surrey. He meets two of the groups Mondays during his day off. When they meet they do the Divine Mercy and the rosary, and then the pastor lectures on the life of a saint.
The 60 members who joined the pilgrimage came home inspired and spiritually invigorated with their visit to various shrines: St Anthony’s Church – Lisbon, Church of the Holy Miracle – Santarem, private chapel in the sanctuary – Fatima, Convent of Sr. Lucia – Tuy, church of the conversion of St. Ignatius – Loyola, chapels of sanctuary – Lourdes, Basilica of Our Lady-Zaragoza, and Our Lady Shrine in Montserrat among others.
The pilgrimage had a great impact to those who joined; they welcomed the idea of doing something concrete for the poor. It was October 2014 and the Holy Cross HS mission team’s trip in March 2016 seemed too far away. “I thought Father would ask us to organize an event like a dinner dance to raise the funds for ANCOP,” Anita said.
But the pastor did not; instead, starting February 2015 he personally collected donations from his prayer groups. The members were inspired to give because the 2 houses will be built in “Our Lady of Banneux (The Virgin of the Poor)” ANCOP village. This is consistent with the Marian theme of their prayer groups.
It also helped that the pastor brought many of the members to the “Right Here Write Now” ANCOP musical sponsored by St. Matthew’s parish in November 2015 at the Bell Theater. People came to know more about ANCOP and saw closely the sorry plight of the poor.
Fr. Ho was able to collect $4,320; he himself donated $500. It was $1,680 short of the amount to build 2 ANCOP houses.
“He then challenged me to raise the remaining amount!” Anita said. Coincidentally, she and her husband Tony had already raised funds close to this amount during their 2014 wedding anniversary. The couple had planned to donate the amount to ANCOP Walk 2015. With their donation, Fr. Ho and his prayer groups finally achieved their fundraising goal.
The Holy Cross High School Mission Team 2014 in front of the statue of Our Lady of Banneux in the ANCOP village named in her honor.
Come March 2016, the 2 houses will be among the 10 units that will be built by the Holy Cross High School mission team. One house will be sponsored by the Tessa Beauchamp Foundation in honor of the memory of teenager Tessa Beauchamp of Holy Cross, a basketball star of BC, and an amazing person who died at a very early age after a long battle with cancer. Another house will be sponsored by Cecil Correa and family in memory of Virgilio Correa, former member of Holy Cross Education Committee.
Immaculate Conception Parish and School in Delta will sponsor 2 houses with the proceeds from the “Right Here Write Now” ANCOP musical show which they will sponsor in November 7 at the Bell Theater. Fr. Abundo and Fr. Ajun, the parish pastors and Maurice Jacob, the school principal, are performing.
The members of the Holy Cross mission team 2016 raised the funds to finance the remaining 4 houses. The needed amount of $12,000 was raised through two Multicultural Days at Holy Cross. Everyone came in native attire; the mission team went all out selling ethnic dishes like chow mien, samosas, Greek salad, rice delicacies, etc.
Fr. Anthony Ho’s next Marian pilgrimage will be in October 2016. Destination is France and Poland, and it is greatly anticipated to bring more inspiration and spiritual experience.
Edna Garrucho, ANCOP Canada