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Seniors doing the line dance at the Golden Eagles Christmas gathering at St John's Cathedral in Kuala Lumpur.

Early Christmas joy for three generations of parishioners at St John’s Cathedral

DEC 5, 2022: It was a special Christmas fellowship of three generations for the Golden Eagles – senior parishioners of the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist. This was a coming together on Nov 29 of grandparents, the elderly, the children and their children to usher in the spirit of Christmas during Advent.

The 60 Golden Eagles exulted in celebration when Joy To The World hit the soundwaves to start the carolling. Volunteer deejay Eva Lee, aged 12, selected carols for everyone to “rejoice with joy and happiness that the Saviour is born who will rule the earth with love and grace”. Hence Christ The Light and City of God were also chosen.

There was also a time for sharing by three regulars, Jude, Mrs Sargunam and Ignatius, on what Golden Eagles meant to them.

Jude is always looking forward to every fellowship. “Here I enjoy making new friends and have some conversation. Sometimes we talk about retirement life. Sometimes we chat about our younger days,” he says.

Ignatius too enjoyed the company of fellow parishioners. A bonus for him was to reconnect with a long lost friend, a primary school classmate. “It was a pleasant surprise indeed,” he says.

Maybe Golden Eagles can also be the place to find lost friends, not forgetting the biggest find is growing our love for God.

Mrs Sarguman, who was with her son Selva, summed it up aptly “I love the fellowship because we can come together to grow our faith as a community of Christ.” She also liked the simple exercises at each gathering. “They are easy to follow and we get to exercise, seating on the chair. We sweat very little but we have lots of fun doing it.”

And fun it was when everyone, young and old, enthusiastically showed their skills in line dancing, after an instant class by dancing queen Suan, who is Eva’s grandma.

Parish priest Rev Fr Gerard Theraviam and Brother Selva showed that they too could dance, a little, while visiting priests Rev Fr Michael Adawai and Rev Fr Simon Ifeanyi Agbo, both of whom are Nigerians, were excellent.

“I am lucky! No need to sing or dance.
Go and get your present!”

Then there was the musical chair in a version that made it easy and safe for the elderly who needed to remain seated. In the pass the parcel game, a box is passed around until the music stopped. Whoever holding it, makes a lucky dip for an instruction slip to sing or dance. Eva and her sister Emma were in control of the music, and the elderly were at their mercy.

Fr Gerard was “caught” but picked a slip that read “I am lucky! No need to sing or dance. Go and get your present!”

One of the joys of life is in giving and receiving. Golden Eagles both during the exchange of gifts. Fr Gerard, who led the opening prayer, described the felllowship as a fantastic party which strengthened bonding. He is the youngest Golden Eagle.

After all the activities, including a seated exercise and Abba’s “Dancing Queen” jive, Fr Michael led a thanksgiving prayer before lunch was served. Justice was done to the food when nothing was wasted and minimal disposables were used, in adherence to Laudato Si.

Did the folks enjoy themselves? Yes, they said so in their posts in their WhatsApp group. To Lillan, “It was fun filled, full of activities, dancing & exercises! Joy was in the air all right!”

For the record, the youngest present was one-year-old Josiah, who was with his mother Tianne and grandpa Titus Pereira.
While it was primarily a gathering of old folks, the tiny presence of young ones and the roles they played made it even more meaningful.

As Pope Francis said: “The elderly and the young, together. This is the sign that a people cherishes life, that there is a culture of hope: the care of the young and the elderly … they are the certainty of the survival of a country and of the Church.”

The grandchildren were not just tagging along. They, including those who accompanied their parents, were active volunteers helping to evoke joy.

Eva and Emma even started a day earlier to put up the welcoming banner and Christmas tree using recycled art materials, a plus for Laudato Si. Parish office staff Melina went beyond the call of duty to mop the floor of the community centre. Helping her was volunteer Erron.

Golden Eagles meet every other Tuesday at the Cathedral of St John The Evangelist in Kuala Lumpur.
This article was written by a contributor.