HomeDiocesan ReportsFilipinos plant trees to mark 500th anniversary of arrival of Christianity

Filipinos plant trees to mark 500th anniversary of arrival of Christianity

Filipino Christians are reminded to be responsible and to be good stewards of God's creation

Filipino Catholic faithful on the island of Homonhon in the central Philippines planted 500 native trees on Sunday, March 14, as part of the Church’s celebration of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the country.

“Through this we encourage and remind Christians to be responsible and to be good stewards of God’s creation,” said Catholic priest Christian Ofilan who led the celebration spearheaded by the St. John the Baptist parish.

At least 500 volunteers from eight villages on Homonhon island joined the activity ahead of the actual anniversary of the arrival of the first Christians on the island on March 17.

“Protecting the environment is part of the Christian message,” said Father Ofilan.

The island of Homonhon is at the center of the celebrations of the Diocese of Borongan because it is where Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan supposedly first landed in 1521.

From March 17 to 28 that year, Magellan and his men took a respite on the island upon their arrival in what is later known as the Philippine archipelago.

“It is on record that they were welcomed by our ancestors with grateful hospitality,” said Bishop Crispin Varquez of the Diocese of Borongan.

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“In the years that followed, [the people of island] also joyfully welcomed the faith the missionaries brought with them,” said the prelate.

To mark the anniversary on March 17, Bishop Varquez will lead the celebration of the Holy Mass in the village of Pagbabangnan where Magellan supposedly landed.

The prelate will also lead the opening of the “Jubilee Door” at Homonhon’s St. John the Baptist Parish church in the village of Casuguran.

Bishop Crispin Varquez leads the celebration of Mass at the St. John the Baptist Parish church on the historic Homonhon of Guiuan in Eastern Samar on Sept. 25, 2020. (Photo by Alren Beronio)

Bishop Varquez thanked Filipino parents who took it upon themselves to teach and transmit “the beauty and the truth of our Catholic faith to their children.”

“You are doing a very admirable mission. I encourage you to continue,” said the prelate in a pastoral letter released this week.

He recognized the “creative and passionate” efforts of priests, the religious, Basic Ecclesial Communities, and other religious organizations for their role in evangelization.

“May I urge you to remain in your firm conviction. Persevere until the end,” said the bishop.

He reminded the faithful that there is “no substitute to Christian witnessing” through “the words and deeds that we express.” – with a report from Alren Beronio and CBCP News

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