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500 Years of Mission

Our wish and prayer for the future is that the Filipino Church be “missionary” and that all believers be authentic “missionary disciples” in tune with Pope Francis’ encyclical Evangelium Gaudium.

This year, the Catholic Church of the Philippines celebrates the 500th anniversary of the arrival of the Christian faith in the country. This remarkable milestone is a profound motive to rejoice and give thanks to God for the treasure of the Gospel brought to the archipelago by Spanish missionaries 500 years ago. 

The main celebrations of the Jubilee Year and the various pastoral and missionary activities earmarked for the historic event, originally planned for April 2021, have been extended to April 2022 due to the restrictions to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

Priding itself for having been among all Asian countries the recipient of the precious gift of faith, the Philippines has the largest Catholic population in the continent, with 80%  Catholic believers. 

The seed of faith planted by missionaries and lay leaders took root and bore much fruit thanks to the early evangelists who sacrificed themselves for the spreading of the Gospel.  

Christianity has had a strong influence on society which shaped its cultural and religious identity. Filipino migrants present in nearly all the countries of the world play a major role in strengthening the faith of other Churches. 

This year’s pastoral priority mission ad gents (mission to the nations)–under the motto “Gifted to give”–highlights the talents and gifts received and the responsibility to share them with others, Filipinos, peoples in Asia, and the world.  This is a clear invitation to participate in the mission ad gents both here and in other countries less evangelized.   

In a pastoral letter to launch this year’s anniversary, Archbishop Romulo G. Valles, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), recalls the words John Paul II pronounced during his visit to the country in 1981 as he wished “the Filipinos to be the first missionaries of the Church in Asia.” 

The aim of the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of the Gospel is not only to look back at a glorious past. It entails also a critical assessement of the present and a look ahead to the future. After 500 years of evangelization, bishops are calling for a missionary renewal of the Church in the Philippines. 

Our wish and prayer for the future is that the Filipino Church be “missionary” and that all believers be authentic “missionary disciples” in tune with Pope Francis’ encyclical Evangelium Gaudium that calls for all Christians to be “agents of evangelization.” 

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