Hundreds of Catholics, mainly migrants, celebrated Christmas with songs and prayers on Sunday at a Taipei church in northern Taiwan, for the first time in two years.
The Christmas celebrations at St. Christopher's Church, which have been an annual tradition since the church was established in 1958, were canceled last year because of the COVID-19 situation at the time.
This year, some 200 Catholics attended the 2021 Acapella Christmas Caroling Contest, bringing back festive cheer to the church's Christmas celebrations.
At the contest, five acapella groups, each comprising 10-20 singers, were judged on vocal quality, expression, choreography, and audience reaction.
The "Family Life Group &amp; Lector Commentator" group won the competition with a vibrant presentation of a Christmas carol medley that drew an enthusiastic response from the audience.
Group member Filipina Elsa Sotelo, who has been attending mass at St. Christopher's since 2000, told CNA that it was exciting to return to the Christmas festivities at the church after a two-year break.
"We are excited because we have been waiting for an activity like this," Sotelo said. "We are so happy because we really missed this kind of activity at the church."
Hendrikus Arianto Ukat, an Indonesian priest at St. Christopher's Church who is also part of Stella Maris, the world's largest ship-visiting network, said the event was held to provide kinship for members of the congregation who could not return home to their families at Christmas.
"Christmas is always a time to be together with families, but these past two years, things have become a bit difficult for all," he told CNA. "So, we try to provide a place for everyone."
As part of the celebrations, parishioners were encouraged to write their Christmas wishes on star-shaped cards and hang them on a large Christmas tree in the church.
Parish Priest Filipino Edward Pacquing said he prayed that Jesus, whose birth is celebrated at Christmas, would continue to bless, guide and protect the church's congregation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the last major Christmas event at the church before this year's, some 500 people attended the celebrations in 2019, which included dance and theater performances by eight groups competing for the "Best Santa Claus" prize that was awarded for the presentation that best reflected Christmas values.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel