MANILA - The COVID-19 pandemic did not stop but only prolonged by a year the Catholic Church’s celebration of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines.
The national quincentennial celebration of the First Easter Mass in the Philippines on April 4, 2021 will serve as the kick-off event with all parishes all over the country observing the simultaneous opening of the Jubilee Year.
The National Historical Commission of the Philippines earlier said the site of the historic Mass was held on Limasawa Island in Southern Leyte on March 31, 1521, an Easter Sunday.
Jubilee doors will be opened in designated churches in every diocese, said Msgr. Bernard Pantin, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
“Kasi ngayon, limited pa ang attendance sa simbahan. Pero ang nangyayari kasi, parish-based siya. Kaya dispersed naman all over the Philippines kasi bawat parokya magbubukas ng Jubilee door nila,” Pantin told ABS-CBN News.
(Because attendance is limited, it's now parish-based and dispersed all over the Philippines as each one will open their Jubilee door.)
“Dahil nga sa pandemic, hindi makapunta sa main churches like, for example, Cebu or dito sa Manila. Kaya bawat diocese, ang mga Obispo, nag-decide sila na mayroong mga simbahan na pwedeng puntahan na makaka-avail sila ng tinatawag nating plenary indulgence.”
(Due to the pandemic, many will be unable to go to their main Churches. So in every diocese, bishops decided which church their constituents can avail of the plenary indulgence.)
On April 14, the reenactment of the First Baptism will be held in front of the Magellan’s Cross in Cebu City at 10 a.m., while a mass and renewal of baptismal promises and a baptism of seven children will be held at 4 p.m. at the Basilica del Sto. Niño in Cebu City. A cultural show follows at 7:30 p.m.
All activities will be live-streamed and posted in different social media accounts as mass gatherings are restricted due to the pandemic.
The closing activity of the Jubilee year will be held on April 18-22, 2022 for the Second National Mission Congress in Cebu City where the Papal Legate or personal representative of the Pope will be invited.
Several online activities connected to the 500 Years of Christianity (YOC) in the Philippines have been lined up throughout the year, including a virtual pilgrimage, webinars on Mission for Youth, lecture series on Philippine Church history, webinars on Mission for Ecclesial Movements, Mission for Clergy, as well as Mission for CLE Teachers, Campus Ministers and Catechists.
The theme of the Church’s celebration, taken from Matthew 10:8, “Gifted to Give,” also serves as a challenge for the faithful not only to celebrate but to go out and share the gift of the Christian faith.
“Pope John Paul II, Pope Francis have been emphasizing na tayong mga Pilipino, tayo dapat ang unang mga misyonero sa ating neighboring countries. Kaya malaki talaga itong hamon para sa atin na not only we celebrate, but we are also called to share this faith to others. Para sa ating mga Pilipino, ito ang ating gift and yet also a task: to share this faith to others," Pantin said.
(Pope John Paul II, Pope Francis have been emphasizing that we, Filipinos, should be the first missionaries to our neighboring countries. So, this is a big challenge for us - that not only we celebrate, but we are also called to share this faith to others. For us Filipinos, this is our gift, and yet also a task: to share this faith to others.)
Government-led activities will cover the Philippine-part of the first circumnavigation of the world and the Victory of Mactan, as well as other related events in 1521.
All events will be closed to the general public and will be streamed online due to the pandemic, according to the National Quincentennial Committee.
The NQC, chaired by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, began last week the 100-day countdown to the 2021 Quincentennial Commemorations in the Philippines (2021 QCP), with the 500th anniversary of the Victory at Mactan on April 27, 2021 central in the activities.
Expected to happen on April 27 are simultaneous flag-raising ceremonies of various government institutions in plazas and public spaces dedicated to heroes and martyrs of the country; a Quincentennial TV special, expected to be broadcast in “all TV networks,” which, according to the NQC website, will feature a Military Parade; and the Quincentennial Grand Show.
“We will follow the template of the 30th SEA Games opening ceremony which uplifted the cultural confidence of the Filipino people upon seeing on live TV and social media how beautiful their heritage is,” the NQC said.