Manila (Agenzia Fides) - Preparations to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the arrival of the Gospel in the Philippines (in 1521) is underway throughout the country: "To prepare oneself properly for this important event, the Church in the Philippines in the Philippines has set a nine-year cycle (from 2013 to 2021) that will culminate with the anniversary of the Holy Year of the anniversary, 2021", explains to Agenzia Fides Mgr. Socrates C. Mesiona, Apostolic Vicar of Puerto Princesa, on the Philippine island of Palawan.
"The Spanish missionaries brought the Christian faith to the Philippines 500 years ago and today the country with the largest Catholic population in Asia (and fourth in the world) has 86 dioceses", recalls the Bishop.
The event will be an opportunity to revive the missionary character of the Philippine Church: "We received the gift of the Christian faith through the missionaries who came to our land; now the baptized in the Philippines are called to give it to others", explains the Bishop, who is the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the Philippines and Executive Secretary of the Episcopal Commission for the missions.
It is interesting", recalls the Bishop, "that thousands of Filipino Catholic priests, religious and lay people are already missionaries all over the world. Among the congregations that send missionaries abroad we have: the Missionary Society of the Philippines, the Lay Missionaries of the Philippines, and hundreds of other institutes and religious orders (male and female) born locally, engaged in those areas where the preaching of the Gospel is a great challenge due to delicate socio-political contexts".
The Philippine Church, in its various articulations, has intensified animation programs and missionary formation for priests, religious, catechists, teachers, lay people with the intention to "promote and raise the awareness of the People of God, starting from children and young people", confirms to Fides Antony Dameg S. Ward, co-ordinator of the formation in the Pontifical Mission Societies of the Philippines. "Making every baptized aware of his missionary vocation is very important: the Church in the Philippines is doing it during this period of nine years of preparation for the solemn commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in our country: 2021 will in fact be for the nation The Year of Missio Ad Gentes", concludes Mgr. Mesiona. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 16/06/2017)