The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Mission (CBCP-ECM) held a virtual fiesta called Pista ng Pananampalataya at Misyon on April 10, 2021, at 3 pm, in celebration of the 500 years of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines and the Year of Missio Ad Gentes.
The event commenced with the celebration of the Holy Mass in Rome presided over by H.E. Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle, Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and was followed by a fiesta presentation of the different archdioceses and dioceses in the Philippines focusing on various aspects of mission.
According to Msgr. Esteban Lo, Executive Secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Mission (CBCP-ECM) and National Director of Pontifical Mission Society of the Philippines, the event took place of the Second National Mission Congress that is scheduled this year. But because of the outbreak of the COVID-19, it was moved to next year, 2022.
“Sinasabi na napakalungkot dahil nga sa pandemya, ang ating 500 years of Christianity celebration ay very downsized, very low key, very limited, walang malakihang pagtitipon, walang prusisyon, walang kainan. That is true na this pandemic has impacted negatively our celebration,” Msgr. Lo told the Archdiocese of Manila Office of Communications.
Msgr. Lo, despite the negative effects of the coronavirus that hit the country early in January last year, encouraged the faithful to continue to celebrate and thank the Lord for the gift of faith and mission.
“Pero on the other hand, magpasalamat tayo sa Panginoon na as we go through this pandemic for another year, we have this 500 Years of Christianity celebration na nagbibigay sa atin ng assurance, ng katatagan, ng lakas loob, ng kakapitan, ng pag-asa for the reason to rejoice and celebrate,” he said.
“Precisely because we have the gift of faith for the past 500 years and we have the sense of mission reaching out to others and one another, kahit papaano, naiibsan ang bigat, nababawasan ang lungkot kahit papaano,” he added.
Aside from the gift of faith and mission that the faithful received for the past five hundred years, Msgr. Lo also told them to be thankful even to those “blessings in disguise” that come their way, especially during these hard times.
“Sabay sabay tayo magpasalamat sa Panginoon, walang hanggang pasasalamat sa lahat ng kanyang biyaya including blessings in disguise. Yan po ay isa nating dapat bigyan ng pansin din. Hindi lamang yung blessings ayon sa ating expectation, hindi lang yung blessings ayon sa ating hinihingi, blessings in disguise,” he said.
Bishop Socrates Mesiona of Puerto Princesa and Chairman of CBCP Episcopal Commission on Mission and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, CBCP President delivered their message respectively during the online event.
On April 4, Easter Sunday, in the Archdiocese of Manila, Most Rev. Broderick S. Pabillo, Apostolic Administrator of Manila led the opening of the Jubilee Door of the Manila Cathedral that marked the official start of the celebration of 500 Years of Christianity. Manila Cathedral is one of the pilgrim churches declared by Pope Francis. (Jheng Prado/RCAM-AOC)
IN PHOTO: Msgr. Esteban Lo, Executive Secretary of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Mission (CBCP-ECM) and National Director of Pontifical Mission Society of the Philippines leads the opening prayer of the online Pista ng Pananampalataya at Misyon on April 10, 2021. | Screenshot from CBCP Commission on Mission live streaming