The Catholic Church in the Philippines ended the celebration of the quincentenary of the arrival of Christianity in the country on Sunday, April 24.
In his message, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, stressed the need for the Church to turn toward the fringes of society.
He said the Church does not even have to go distant places to engage in missionary work.
“The ones we are sent to might not even be very far from us — they are around us, in the peripheries,” Bishop David said in his homily during the closing Mass at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.
“We are never to allow it to happen that those kept at the fringes of society are also kept at the fringes of the Church,” he said.
Citing the Catholic social teachings, Bishop David said the only “civilization” that Christians should aim to build is something that “aims to raise our level of humanity” by caring for the poor and the vulnerable.
He said there is nothing Christian in works that exclude the majority and treat the poor like “disposable trash.”
“In a truly humane society we are mindful of the common good; we protect and empower the weakest. Everyone matters. It is what being in mission means,” said Bishop David.
The last week of the year-long celebration was capped with the virtual 2nd National Mission Congress in two parts: the International Missiology Symposium and the National Mission Forum.
Among those who attended the closing Mass were 12 bishops, including Archbishop Charles Brown, apostolic nuncio to the Philippines, and Bishop Socrates Mesiona, head of the Episcopal Commission on Mission.
Archbishop Brown encouraged the faithful “to keep our faith strong” and share it to other places in the world.
He also paid tribute to the parents “who give the light and life of the Catholic faith to their children.”
“There are no more important missionaries than fathers and mothers,” Archbishop Brown said. “So, parents, grandparents, remember that you are missionaries in the most profound sense of the world.”
The gathering was highlighted with the mission-send off rites for five priests, five religious women and several members of lay group Couples for Christ who are off to various missions in the Philippines and overseas.
The missionaries were also conferred with a “mission cross” by the papal nuncio. – with a report from CBCP News