NOT many know this, but I was an altar girl in Germany.
I signed up to be an altar girl at the local Catholic Church, St BonifatiusKirche (Saint Boniface Church) run by the Franciscan brothers when I was still an egg (about seven or eight years old). I remember the local parish priest being one of the nicest and coolest priests in town (he played football with the kids and cracked the best jokes). Prior to me volunteering, I met the local priest on several occasions, when I visited the flea markets organized by the church.
I loved the sense of community among the volunteers and I knew I wanted to be a part of that.
There were several after-school sessions you had to attend to learn what you needed to do as an altar girl or boy, and facts about the church and the community. I enjoyed the workshops—learning how to serve the wine, how to pour water and where to kneel. I remember being extra happy once I was told I could serve during church service.
What I loved about our community was our fundraising efforts. I remember we’d raise funds for soup kitchens, for kids in countries affected by conflict, and we’d have programs for the elderly. It was a wonderful community to support.
When we moved to the Philippines, I was pretty bummed that girls weren’t commonly allowed to be an altar girl. I never really understood why.
While we were in Mannheim, my boyfriend and I visited the church to see how everything looked. And yes, everything still looked the same. Even in the corner, there was a fundraising pamphlet and an announcement for a Seniors Night with free cake and coffee (sadly, it was on the day we were scheduled to fly out).
The church—like everything else we saw—did look smaller compared to the memories I had of the place.
“Probably because as a child, everything was bigger,” my boyfriend explained patiently with a small laugh.
My head and heart are both still in Germany. While it’s been weeks since our trip, I still can’t shake off my Germany hangover and am still amazed by how home still looked and felt the same.
Old buildings were still old buildings. The old towns like Mannheim and Dresden kept their old romantic city feel that took you back to the ‘90s. While in Cologne, Robert and I stayed in the Belgian Quarter and it reminded us of our childhood neighborhoods with old (and still functional) cinema houses, pubs and restaurants.
I secretly wish that we would preserve some of our old buildings and keep them clean and functional in the Philippines. My heart breaks knowing that we’re losing Patria de Cebu.
What are you favorite childhood haunts that are still around in Cebu?