Filipinos in Utah celebrate 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines

Friday, April 29, 2022

IC photo/Marie Mischel

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Among the traditional dances at the Sinulog festival held April 24 at St. Olaf Parish was one in honor of Santo Nio, an image of the Christ Child that is revered in the Philippines.

By Marie Mischel

Intermountain Catholic

BOUNTIFUL – To commemorate the 500th anniversary of the introduction of Christianity to the Philippines, the country has planned many celebrations starting in January last year. As part of this fifteenth anniversary, Pope Francis presided over a Mass on March 14, 2021 in St. Peter’s Square. Here in Utah, a planned celebration was postponed to this year due to the pandemic.

On April 24, the local Filipino community gathered at St. Olaf’s Catholic Church in Bountiful for a Sinulog Festival which included a mass, traditional dances and traditional food.

Bishop Oscar A. Solis, himself a native of the Philippines, celebrated Mass. Concelebrating the priests of the diocese from the Philippines: Fr. Robin Cruz, parochial vicar of St. Thomas Aquinas parish in Logan; Prof. Max Butch Omana, Chaplain of Christ Prince of Peace Catholic Community at Hill Air Force Base; Prof. Rodelio Ignacio, Parish Vicar of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Park City; Prof. Joshua Santos, administrator of St. Joseph Parish in Ogden; Prof. Noel Ancheta, Spiritual Director of Misan Bayan and Hospitaller Ministry; and Fr. Ariel Durian, administrator of St. Peter’s Parish in American Fork.

Deacon Scott Dodge helped.

The celebration was for “the greatest gift God has given to our country – the gift of the Christian faith,” Bishop Solis said.

“Christianity has shaped not only our nation, but also every heart of Filipinos, and they bring it wherever they are,” he said. “They make the presence of faith through their participation in the life of the Church,” as choir members, hospitality ministers, Eucharistic ministers, and in other leadership roles.

The Filipino faith “is filled with joy,” he added. “The joy of the Filipino people is rooted in our faith, because of our trust in God’s mercy and love. … Joy is the mark of the true Christian believer. … Whenever you have Jesus in your heart, you feel at peace, and when you are at peace, smiles radiate from your face, knowing that no matter what, God is there with us.

The anniversary was a celebration not only of 500 years of history “but a celebration of the future,” the Bishop said, noting that the theme of the national celebration, Gifted to Give, “reminds us of the blessings that God given to us, to be grateful for. But every blessing comes with a counterpart of responsibility. It is a call to mission. …And I hope that theme will be planted in our hearts, knowing that we are blessed and that we are called to bless others with the gift of our faith.

The bishop prayed: “May we have the courage, the inspiration to continue the mission that God has entrusted to us: to bring the gospel of love and salvation to the whole world, wherever we are, knowing that we we are not alone.”

He also urged those present to keep Santo Niño, an image of the Child Jesus widely revered in the Philippines. “Let him be our guide and our inspiration to be able to give what God has given us, to proclaim the message of love and mercy to the world and to each other,” he said.

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