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Philippines celebrates 500th gift of Christianity

The opening salvo 500th year celebration of the First Easter Mass last March 22, 2021 had three notable activities. One was the bringing of Santo Niño de Limasawa to the island’s shrine and Mass led by Maasin Diocese Bishop Precioso D. Cantillas; next was the launching of the two commemorative stamps; and third, was the unveiling of the 10 ft. x 5 ft. First Easter Mass painting.

The acrylic painting was made by Dionisio Gayo, a member of the diocese youth ministry. Gayo’s artistic interpretation showed the image of Santo Niño de Limasawa, natives, priest officiating the mass, the Spaniards, their ships on sea, and the local scenery perceived as Limasawa.

Catholic Women’s League President, Epifania “Panny” Sy disclosed that in the 500 YOC Diocese of Maasin schedule, activities and pilgrimage of parishioners start  on March 22 until March 31. The Diocese of Maasin is consisting of 47 parishes from the towns beginning with Silago, Southern Leyte up to Baybay City in Leyte. And these parishes are grouped into 7 Vicariates. The vicariates are based in Baybay, Hilongos, Maasin, Malitbog, Sogod, Cabalian and Panaon. Each vicariate can send 300 parishioners as pilgrims to the 500th year celebration, which are scheduled daily from March 22 to March 31. Only 50 people of each parish are allowed. Panny Sy further said that the fare of each pilgrim shall be shouldered by the church, but each one were advised to bring their own food.

The pastoral information stated that the first Mass in Limasawa was set at 10:00 am on March 31, 2021, which will be joined online by the whole country.

In related development, on March 22, 2021 Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle along with other clergy, religious people, and the laity, met with Pope Francis to mark the 60th anniversary of the Pontificio Collegio Filippino in Rome, Italy. Pontificio Collegio Filippino is a college for diocesan priests from the Philippines studying at pontifical universities in Rome. This was timely as the Philippines is also celebrating the 500th anniversary of the evangelization of the Philippines, according to the Vatican media.

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