Filipinos gathered in Colorado Springs on Sunday afternoon to celebrate Pope Benedict XVI’s canonization of Pedro Calungsod, the Catholic Church’s second Filipino saint.

Filipino-American Community of Southern Colorado organizer Dennis Apuan said it was serendipitous for the committee to have its monthly meeting, held at Sand Creek Library, on the same day as the canonization of Pedro Calungsod, a 17-year-old martyr who was added to the roll of saints. Saint Pedro died defending a missionary in 1672 while evangelizing natives on a Pacific Island.

“It’s a great source of national pride,” said the organization’s community organizer and former House District 17 representative Dennis Apuan. “We have a lot to be proud of this month.”

In addition to the Vatican’s canonization of its second Filipino saint on Sunday, October is also Filipino American Heritage Month.

The group has scheduled its first Heritage Dinner on Oct. 27 to celebrate their roots and raise money for an endowment fund set up through Pikes Peak Library District. The Asian and Pacific American Collection endowment, said Apuan, would expand the collection of Filipino and American educational resources for the community.

“We’re known as an invisible minority group here in Colorado Springs,” said Apuan. “It (the endowment) is part of efforts to make us visible.”

The dinner and the organization’s various events are how Fil-Am promotes heritage, and raises money including thousands for scholarships.

Any resources that come back from the community go right back into it, and even back to the Philippines, said the group’s founder Ron Nono, who established the organization in 1993.

In addition to the dinner and a pageant, the organization is sponsoring a health fair in November, will walk in the Veteran’s day parade Nov. 10.

“There’s a growing ethnic population here in Colorado Springs,” said Nono. “Before when new people came in, they didn’t have a network. We organized a network to find out the needs of the community.”

And the community has a courageous new role model, those at the meeting said.

They finished their meeting with a talk about Saint Pedro, outlining the deeds that led to his canonization.

“He’s a role model not just for young adults but for all of us,” Apuan said.