Utah's Filipinos celebrate 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines

Friday, Apr. 29, 2022
Utah's Filipinos celebrate 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines Photo 1 of 3
Among the traditional dances at the Sinulog Festival held April 24 at St. Olaf Parish was one honoring Santo Niño, 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 in the Philippines, the country planned numerous celebrations beginning in January of last year. As part of that quincentennial, Pope Francis presided at a Mass on March 14, 2021 in St. Peter’s Square. Here in Utah, a planned celebration was delayed until this year because of the pandemic.

On April 24, the local Filipino community gathered at St. Olaf Catholic Church in Bountiful for a Sinulog Festival that included a Mass, traditional dances and traditional foods.

Bishop Oscar A. Solis, himself a native of the Philippines, celebrated the Mass. Concelebrating were the priests in the diocese who are from the Philippines: Fr. Robin Cruz, parochial vicar of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Logan; Fr. Max Butch Omana, chaplain of the Christ Prince of Peace Catholic community at Hill Air Force Base; Fr. Rodelio Ignacio, parochial vicar of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Park City; Fr. Joshua Santos, administrator of St. Joseph Parish in Ogden; Fr. Noel Ancheta, spiritual director for the Misan Bayan and hospital ministry; and Fr. Ariel Durian, administrator of St. Peter Parish in American Fork.

Deacon Scott Dodge assisted.

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

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

The Filipino faith “it is filled with joy,” he added. “The joy of the Filipino people is anchored in our faith, because of our trust and confidence in the mercy and love of God. … 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 will 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 has given us, to be thankful for. But every blessing comes with a counterpart of responsibility. It is a call to mission. … And I hope that this theme will be implanted in our hearts, knowing that we are blessed and we are called to bless other people with the gift of our faith.”

The bishop prayed, “may we have the courage, the inspiration in order to carry on the mission that God has entrusted to us: to bring the gospel of love and salvation to all the world, wherever we are, knowing that we are not alone.”

He also urged those present to hold on to Santo Niño, an image of the Child Jesus that is widely venerated 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 of mercy to the world and to one another,” he said.

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