Catholicism in the Philippines is believed to have arrived in 1521 when famous Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan first set foot in present-day Cebu Province.
By Robin Gomes
The Philippine Church is preparing to launch celebrations to mark 500 years of Christianity in the country. Two Filipino dioceses have anticipated the celebrations ahead of the national inauguration in April.
Easter Sunday launch
Philippine dioceses will designate “jubilee churches” for the 500th anniversary celebrations. Archbishop Romulo Valles, president of the Philippine Catholic Bishops’ Conference, will officially inaugurate the Jubilee Year nationally by opening the “holy door” to pilgrimage churches on Easter Sunday, April 4. This, he said, is to remember that on this day the first recorded Eucharist was celebrated in the country.
The one-year celebration will end April 18-22 in 2022, to coincide with the 2nd National Mission Congress in Cebu City.
The designation of pilgrim churches was one of the key topics of the recent virtual plenary assembly of bishops. Archbishop Valles said the celebrations will remain in line with health protocols.
442 years of Manila
The Archdiocese of Manila officially kicked off the celebration on Saturday with a special mass Saturday at the city’s cathedral. The Mass, broadcast live, was presided over by the Apostolic Administrator, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, who was joined at the altar by the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Charles Brown, and priests from the Archdiocese.
Manila City Mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso and Deputy Mayor Ma. Sheilah ‘Honey’ Lacuna-Pangan, along with other local government officials from the National Capital Region, joined the morning mass.
In accordance with Covid-19 protocols, arrangements have been made for the faithful to follow Mass on LED screens outside the cathedral. On Sunday February 7, the celebrations will begin at the parish levels.
Also on February 6, the Archdiocese of Manila celebrated the 442sd anniversary of its constitution as a diocese, the first in the country, with jurisdiction over the entire territory.
In his homily, Bishop Pabillo recalled that he had been elevated to the rank of archdiocese in 1595. Gradually, other dioceses were established in the country.
The 65-year-old bishop urged Catholics in the Archdiocese to continue “expanding” the mission “Ad gentes” by letting others know that Jesus is Lord. This mission, he said, should push us out of “maintenance mode” of being just “antiques, museums and artifacts” in our comfort zones, and out of “missionary mode”. , in order to reach the outskirts. need the light of the Gospel.
Speaking of the pandemic and its impact on the poor, he urged Catholics to prioritize the evangelization of those on the peripheries who reach out to the needy. He praised the charitable work of the archdiocese, which, he said, brought the faithful closer together.
Bishop Pabillo also urged everyone, including the elderly, to use digital and social media to reach people with the gospel message.
Diocese of Borongan
Meanwhile, the Diocese of Borongan in Samar Province will kick off its commemorations on March 17 with a conference on the arrival of Christianity, its spread in the province, and how it developed there and beyond.
The people of Samar were among the first Filipinos to meet famous Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan shortly before he was killed in a skirmish on April 27, 1521.