Bishop Silva announces local commemoration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines


Parol at the Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa in Honolulu. (Photo: Dann Ebina)

In anticipation of the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the introduction of Christianity to the Philippines in 2021, Bishop Larry Silva is encouraging Hawaii parishes hosting the Filipino Advent traditions Misa de Gallo and Simbang Gabi this year to follow homily themes based on the “Nine-Year Spiritual Journey of New Evangelization” implemented by the bishops of the Philippines.

“Let us find ways to integrate the nine pastoral priorities of the church in the Philippines into the pastoral life of our respective parishes and ministries in the Diocese of Honolulu,” the bishop wrote in a letter to all Hawaii priests and parishioners, Dec. 3.

The nine pastoral priorities of the church in the Philippines are:

  • Integral Faith Formation: Toward Maturity in Christ
  • The Laity: Choose to be Brave, Called to be Saints and Sent Forth as Heroes
  • The Poor: The Gaze of the Crucified Lord
  • The Eucharist and the Family: Missionary Disciples of the Eucharist
  • The Parish as a Communion of Communities: A Pilgrim Community
  • The Clergy and Religious: Renewed Servant-Leaders for the New Evangelization.
  • Youth in Mission: Beloved, Gifted, Empowered
  • Ecumenism and Inter-Religious Dialogue: Unity in Diversity
  • Missio Ad Gentes (Mission to the Nations): Graciously Gifted to Give

“For those parishes without Misa de Gallo or Simbang Gabi, I also encourage that this news be disseminated through publication in parish bulletins and announcements,” Bishop Silva said.

According to a pastoral letter by the Philippine bishops, Christianity came to their nation with the first Mass celebrated in Limasawa Island on Easter Sunday March 31, 1521. That year also marked the baptism of Rajah Humabon who was given his Christian name Carlos and his wife, Hara Amihan, who was baptized Juana.

The first Filipino Catholics that year received, as a gift from explorer Ferdinand Magellan, the oldest religious icon today in the Philippines, Santo Nino de Cebu.

“In Hawaii, a great majority of immigrants here are Filipinos who brought with them their tradition, culture and most importantly, their faith,” Bishop Silva wrote. “And so, I am calling for our participation in that great jubilee” to be done locally, called “500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines — Hawaii celebration.”

“I look forward to a grand celebration sometime in Easter 2021 at the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace,” he said.

“I am also planning to lead a Pilgrimage to the Philippines in 2021 for us to understand and appreciate even more the gift of faith of our Filipino brethren,” the bishop said.

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