Caceres launches Year of Mission to celebrate 500 years of Christianity
By Myrna Bermudo
The Archdiocese of Caceres formally launched the Year of Missio ad Gentes (Mission to the Nations) and Year of St. Joseph as part of the anniversary celebration of the 500th year of Christianity in the Philippines. A Pontifical Eucharistic Celebration on the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord marked the ocassion. It was led by Most Rev. Rolando J. Tria Tirona, OCD, DD, Archbishop of Caceres, at the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral on January 3, 2021 at 6:00AM.
Following health protocols, the main celebrant and concelebrants were all wearing face masks. Archbishop Tirona was joined by Msgr. Noe Badiola, parish priest of the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral, Fr. Gerome Pelagio, director of the Office for Mission and Evangelization and Fr. Glenn Ruiz, the master of ceremonies. Also present were Fr. Jayson Gaite and Fr. Joe Mar Josafat, parochial vicars of Saint John Evangelist Parish, and Fr. Iohannes Jeremy Salise, FFI, Guardian of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate and station manager of Radio Caritas Mariae 98.3 FM.
Under the gaze of St. Joseph, Archbishop Rolando Octavus J. Tirona, OCD, DD, led the launching of the Year of St. Joseph and Year of Mission in the whole Archdiocese of Caceres. This is part of the celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines. St. Joseph, proclaimed the Patron of the Universal Church 150 years ago, is needed more than ever. (FB of the Archdiocese of Caceres)
The Association of Communities of Consecrated Life in Caceres, Taize Group, and the Caceres Lay Missionaries joined the Sunday mass goers at the Naga Cathedral for the launching. The mass was livestreamed through the Archdiocesan Facebook Page and YouTube Channel, and aired through RMN NAGA DWNX 91.1 FM and 1611 AM, the station that airs the Sunday 6:00 am mass at the Naga Cathedral.
It was in 2012 that the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines designated 2021 as the Year of Missio Ad Gentes. On December 8, 2020, Pope Francis declared the period December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021 as the Year of Saint Joseph.
The celebration invites all to dedicate the year 2021 in reflecting on the importance of the mission and inspiration of Saint Joseph, so the faithful can continue to take part in the mission of salvation. Archbishop Tirona says: “Like the magi and the shepherds, we, bishops, priests, religious leaders, educators, and lay people, must continue our journey and share the light that we have from our encounter with Jesus.”
Five hundred years ago, Christianity was introduced by European missionaries and the church in the Philippines was created and established. She has been nourished and sustained by mission for five centuries. The theme “Biniyayaan na Magtao” (Gifted to Love) is the theme of the celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines.
The Pastoral Letter of Archbishop Tirona, titled “Our Mission and Our Inspiration”, on the launching of the Year of Missio Ad Gentes and the Year of Saint Joseph was issued and read in all the parishes. It mentions that Missio Ad Gentes ( Mission to All Nations) is a pastoral priority of the Church in the Philippines.
Through the pastoral letter, Archbishop Tirona reminds the faithful that “the Mission includes responding to the social challenges of poverty, migration, and megalopolises or huge cities. Missio Ad Gentes covers, as well, bringing the Good News to present cultural conditions and issues. It calls to evangelize and utilize the world of communications in proclaiming the Good News. It calls to care, protect, and save the environment, the youth, women and children. And, it calls to work and help preserve justice and peace.”
The pastoral letter further says: “As we celebrate the 500th year of Christianity, we renew our commitment to share our faith. The first step, however, in taking up the challenge of bringing the good news is “to renew once again our understanding of the faith.” Most Catholics receive sacraments and take part in social action activities, such as, relief operations, gift giving, voluntary services for PWDs, tree planting, and building houses for the poor. But they do not give much time in understanding the faith through formation. Most have been “sacramentalized but not fully evangelized”. Many people today do not know the doctrinal content of the faith. Religious instructions and catechetical formations must be given importance in our parishes and schools. When we rediscover the beauty of what we believe we gain a “new confidence in the truth of our message.” The result is the “willingness and the desire to share the faith.”
Quoting Pope Francis, the pastoral letter also invites everyone to take notice of the loving service of silent frontliners in this pandemic: “The Covid-19 pandemic helped us see more clearly the importance of ordinary people who though far from the limelight, exercise patience and offer hope every day”. They are those who in their own ways participate in the mission of Jesus. These people resemble Saint Joseph. He is a man who goes unnoticed; a daily, discreet and hidden presence who nonetheless played “an incomparable role in the history of salvation” (Patris Corde).