Tuguegarao City – The University of Saint Louis held a Eucharistic Celebration last March 19 at the Good Shepherd Chapel to mark the quincentennial presence of the Chrisitian faith in the Philippines, 500 years since March 1521.
The Mass was presided over by University Chaplain Rev. Fr. Emanuel Enjang Pranatal, CICM, and concelebrated by University President Rev. Fr. Renillo H. Sta. Ana, CICM.
The homily, which was delivered by Fr. Sta. Ana, centered around two points: the life and faith of Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Church’s celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the country.As March 19 is the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, and the year 2021 as “Year of Saint Joseph” as proclaimed by Pope Francis, Fr. Sta. Ana shared on the role of Saint Joseph in the history of “our salvation as the people of God,” pointing out Saint Joseph’s fatherly care to Jesus.
Fr. Sta. Ana described the Saint as humble, righteous in the sight of God, and discerning. He henced encouraged the Christian believers to have a life or plans that are according to God’s plan. “Let Saint Joseph help us to be discerning also with our lives,” Fr. Sta Ana said.
On the 500 years of Christianity in the country, Fr. Sta Ana focused on the gift of Christian faith given to the country.
He expressed recognition of the missionaries of the Word then and now, including “ourselves [Louisians]” in the 500 years, for sharing in the missionary activity of spreading the Good News.
“As one Louisian community, we are part of the 500 years. We’re counting 56 years as a Louisian community spreading the Good News, building the kingdom of God. We’re happy and celebrate that part,” the University president and OIC, Office of the VP for Mission and Identity, told Louisians.
Understanding and practicing the Faith
The homily further offered reflection on Christian faith. Fr. Sta. Ana stressed that faith is not just handed to persons, that it is instead revealed by God.
“The coming of the Christian faith is the coming of a more concrete understanding of the faith in God in the following of Jesus.” “[That in our life], we should be able to recognize that God reveals himself everyday to us. ”
The homily also touched on the relationship between and among Chrisitian faith, love to God and freedom. Further, it dwelt on Jesus’ cross, a sign and symbol of faith, “the way of God from above who comes to us,” and also “the way of reaching out to one another as brothers and sisters.”
The Christian faith should transform individuals to be brothers and sisters to one another, Fr. Sta. Ana pointed out. Relatedly is the importance of every family, described by Fr. Sta. Ana as cradle of life and persons. Hence, no family, according to him, should dominate while another is left oppressed.
To end his homily, Fr. Sta. Ana urged the Christian believers to renew their faith, to study and understand the meaning of being a Christian.
“Christian faith is nothing else but the following of Christ. Continue to study, continue to learn, and continue to express on being Christians… May our Christian faith continue to guide all of us.”
After the Holy Mass, the unveiling of the symbolic marker of USL’s yearlong celebration of the 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines followed suit.
Also, the prayer for the celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines and the prayer to Saint Joseph were recited.
Thereafter, the video presentation on USL’s yearlong activities aligned with the Church’s milestone celebration was shown.
One with the celebration, Dr. Emilson U. Jimenez, a USL alumnus and currently a government employee and Public Administration professor in the University’s Graduate School, said, “As we celebrate the 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines, we remember our journey with our Christian faith with joy and so much love. This remembrance is so immense such that it makes our Church beautiful and attractive that beams faith, hope, love, joy, forgiveness, and compassion.”
“Together, let us celebrate our faith shaped by the joy of the Gospel and remember our history that made us stronger and God-fearing as people,” Dr. Jimenez added.
“Gifted to Give” and “We Give our Yes” are the event theme and official theme song, respectively, for the celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the country. “Faithfully yours until the end/ To your Mission, Lord/ We give our Yes,” a few lines of the theme song read.
To watch the Holy Mass on USL Facebook page, please click: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialUSLPhilippines/videos/346894053375197/.