The Catholic Church in the Philippines officially concluded its celebration of the quincentenary of Christianity in the Philippines on Sunday emphasizing the need for the Church to turn towards the fringes of society.
Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), echoing Pope Francis, said that the church does not even have to go to distant places to do missions.
“The ones we are sent to might not even be very far from us— they are around us, in the peripheries,” David said in his homily during the closing Mass at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.
“We are never to allow it to happen that those kept at the fringes of society are also kept at the fringes of the Church,” he said.
Bishop David said, citing Catholic social teachings, that Christians should aim to build a “civilization” that “aims to raise our level of humanity” by caring for the poor and the vulnerable.
According to him, there is nothing Christian in works that exclude the majority and treat the poor like “disposable trash”.
“In a truly humane society we are mindful of the common good; we protect and empower the weakest. Everyone matters. It is what being in mission means,” David said.
The year-long celebration concluded with the virtual 2nd National Mission Congress in two parts: the International Missiology Symposium and the National Mission Forum.
12 bishops, including Archbishop Charles Brown, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, and Bishop Socrates Mesiona, head of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Mission were among those who graced the mass.
The Papal Nuncio encouraged the faithful “to keep our faith strong” and share it with other places in the world.
“Who gives the light and life of the Catholic faith to their children” he adds as he paid tribute to his parents.
“There are no more important missionaries than fathers and mothers,” Brown said. “So, parents, grandparents, remember that you are missionaries in the most profound sense of the world.”
The gathering highlighted the mission-send off rites for 5 priests, 5 religious women and several members of the lay group Couples for Christ to various missions in the Philippines and overseas.
The missionaries were also conferred with a “mission cross” by the papal nuncio. (Mio Angelo Hermoso/SOCOM-Vicariate of Santa Clara | Photo from Archdiocese of Cebu Facebook Page)