Upcoming archdiocesan event to celebrate 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines

By Mary Powers

The year 2021 marks the quincentennial celebration—or 500 year celebration—of Christianity in the lives of Filipinos across the world. To celebrate this milestone, the archdiocese is holding events throughout the year, including a virtual event on Nov. 5 at 7pm during the Hope, Heal, Renew Conference.

Christianity reached the Philippines in 1521 when the 16th Century explorer, Ferdinand Magellan landed there in March of that year. It is believed that during his time on a small island off the coast of Leyte, the first Mass was celebrated on Filipino soil. Over the last 500 years, Filipino Catholics have spread the Catholic faith throughout the world through their witness and zeal for Christ.

Archbishop Salvador J. Cordileone, in a July 31 video message on the quincentennial anniversary noted that Filipino Catholics, “exude a spirit of joy and of giving and of celebration, even in the midst of poverty, even in the midst of political upheaval, even in the midst of so much suffering. That joy of their Catholic faith and their generosity and hospitality always shines through.”

The virtual event will be hosted by Paulist Father Ricky Manalo, and will include songs, stories and commentary on the heritage and gifts of Filipino American Catholicism.

“For many Filipino Catholics, the reception of our Christian faith is a gift from God’s abundant grace,” writes Fr. Ricky Manalo on his website for the quincentennial celebration (1521stories.com), “…Today we Filipino American Catholics continue to pass on what we have received from our elders and in the power of the Holy Spirit to our local dioceses and communities and in our homes.”

Participants will include Catholics from 10 archdiocese and dioceses who comprise the conference including the Archdiocese of San Francisco and the Dioceses of Honolulu, Fresno, Las Vegas, Sacramento, San Jose, Monterey and more. Anelita Reyes from the archdiocesan Office of Faith Formation was instrumental in formulating the program with John Michael Reyes from San Francisco and Father Ricky Manalo.  

“The Archdiocese of San Francisco is blessed with the faith life of so many Filipino people,” Sr. Celeste Arbuckle commented, “They hold a strong place in our faith formation programs sharing faith with adult, children and youth. At our virtual faith formation conference – Hope, Heal and Renew on November 5th we will be able to celebrate their 500 years of Catholic faith. Everyone in the archdiocese is invited to join in celebration and showing support.”

Learn more about the Hope Heal Renew Conference at: https://www.hopehealrenew.org/.

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