It was in the Year 1521 when the Christian Faith first arrived and found its roots in the Philippine soil. On March 16, 1521, the First Mass was celebrated in Masaw (Limasawa) Island by Spanish missionaries and conquistadores led by Fr. Pedro Valderrama and Ferdinand Magellan. On April 14, 1521, the First Baptism took place in the island of Zubu (Cebu) in which 500 natives led by Rajah Humabon and his wife were baptized to the Christian Faith. Rajah Humabon was given the Christian name Carlos while his wife, Juana. On that same day, the Queen accordingly begged for the image of the Sňr. Sto. Niño and it was gifted to her. Hence, the Year 2021 is a great jubilee for the Church in the Philippines. The First Mass will be commemorated with great joy. In Cebu, the First Baptism and the Giving of the Child Jesus, the Sňr. Sto. Niňo shall be also meaningfully and joyfully celebrated (Fr. Marvin Mejia).
The theme for the 500 YoC is “Gifted to Give.” It is taken from the Gospel of Matthew (Mt. 10:8): “What you receive as a gift, give as a gift.” “Gifted to Give” is a proclamation of God’s goodness and generosity, that all that we are and all that we have do not come from our own selves. It is a humble acknowledgement that it is from God that we receive the gift of faith. We treasure this gift of faith; we desire to share it with others. While our faith leads us to our own salvation, we are called to share it with others. Our faith is the fountain of our religiosity and piety but it is also the force that impels us to go to others. With our presence and our service, we share this wonderful gift by reaching out to others in love and by giving them hope of the abiding presence of our Heavenly Father in this imperfect world. We are gifted the gift of faith not only for our own but for others as well: both at home (ad intra) and beyond our borders (ad extra). (Fr. Marvin Mejia)