MANILA — The Archdiocese of Manila will launch the celebration for the 500th anniversary of Christianity's establishment in the country on Saturday, highlighting the contribution of Manila to the faith's continuity in the country.
In a statement, the Archdiocese said on Friday it also celebrated the 442nd year of its establishment as the first diocese in the country.
A Mass will be presided by Bishop Broderick Pabillo, the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila, at the Manila Cathedral around 9 a.m. for the celebration.
"The local celebration in the Archdiocese of Manila follows the CBCP guideline of emphasizing celebration, formation, and legacy," the statement from the Manila Archdiocese read.
The celebration was inspired by the first Mass that took place in Limasawa and the first baptism held in Cebu, they explained.
"The Archdiocese of Manila created a program that highlights the contribution of Manila to the 500 years of the story of the Christian faith in the country – that Manila is truly gifted to give," they said.
"It is important for us to celebrate because mission does not end in the time of pandemic; in fact, missionary work is given more significance in times of difficulties," the Archdiocese added.
Archbishop Charles Brown, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, the priests of the Archdiocese of Manila, representatives of the religious and of the laity will be present for the celebration.
The mayors of cities within the Archdiocese -- Manila, Makati City, Mandaluyong City, Pasay City, and San Juan City -- were also invited to the event.
The Archdiocese partnered with Star Music Philippines for the event's song "We Give Our Yes," composed by Fr. Carlo Magno Marcelo and performed by Jamie Rivera.
The single was also produced by ABS-CBN Music creative director Jonathan Manalo.
Rivera will perform the song live, while the official music video will also be released also on Saturday.
The celebration will also feature the wearing of the 500 years "Mission Cross" bearing the name of Jesus that is inscribed in Roman characters and ancient Baybayin script.
Such cross will serve as an invitation to the public of wearing it, describing it as a "sign of our faith in Jesus, of protection from God, and most importantly, as a badge of our missionary work."
A ceremonial wearing and giving of the Mission Cross will also happen for the local chief executives and community representatives from the Archdiocese's chosen pilgrimage churches.
"This symbolizes the encounter of the faith from Western missionaries and our own culture and life, resulting in a colorful and vibrant Filipino faith that now becomes our contribution to the universal Church," they said.
Some of the said churches chosen by the Manila Archdiocese are the following:
- Manila Cathedral (Manila)
- Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, Quiapo Church (Manila)
- Archdiocesan Shrine of Nuestra Señora de Guia (Manila)
- Archdiocesan Shrine of Sto. Niño de Tondo (Manila)
- San Pablo Apostol Parish (Manila)
- Santa Clara de Montefalco Parish (Pasay)
- National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Makati)
- Sts. Peter and Paul Parish (Makati)
- San Felipe Neri Parish (Mandaluyong)
- St. John the Baptist Parish (San Juan)
These churches will be declared by the Archdiocese as pilgrims, with the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) asking the Apostolic Penitentiary to likewise grant them "indulgences."
"These pilgrim churches are meant to be centers of prayer, forgiveness, and charitable works during this jubilee year," according to the statement.
Bishop Pabillo will also be expected to open Manila Cathedral's "jubilee door" along with other Philippine cathedrals during Easter Sunday on April 4, 2021. He will also open other churches' jubilee doors on the Easter Week.
"Our frontliners, medical workers, and all of us who try our best to contribute to helping the country are ourselves doing and saying yes to the mission of Jesus."
The Archdiocese said other details of the celebration would be posted soon.
President Rodrigo Duterte in 2019 rebuked the need to celebrate the 500th year since the arrival of Spanish colonizers in the Philippines, which also brought Christianity to the country, saying the foreign landing in Cebu heralded centuries of abuse against Filipinos.
Duterte said he was not trying to pick a fight with priests, but admitted that he was "angry" over what happened centuries ago.