WelCom May 2021
The Bishop Viard College Hall in Porirua was filled to the brim for the 500th anniversary of the first Catholic Mass in the Philippines. Around 700 people from Wellington’s Filipino community gathered for the joyous occasion.
The first Mass in the Philippines was celebrated by the Spanish priest, Fr Pedro de Valderrama on Limasawa Island on Easter Sunday, 1521.
The anniversary Mass at Viard College was celebrated by Cardinal John Dew, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa, Filipino community chaplain Fr Marlon Tebelin, Frs Rico de la Torre, Cirilo Barlis, David Orange and John Van der Kaa AA.
The Mass began with a cultural drama telling the story of how the Spaniards brought the faith to the Philippines and how it grew among the people. The presentation depicted the four pillars of faith development in the Philippines: missionaries, churches/clergy, devotions and education.
“The Spaniards colonised the Philippines for 300 years but we still have deep faith 200 years later. It is the gift of faith we are thankful for.”Ria De Leon, Archdiocese Filipino chaplaincy chair
Christianity came with colonisation but it didn’t end there, said Wellington Archdiocese Filipino chaplaincy chair, Ria De Leon. ‘The Spaniards colonised the Philippines for 300 years but we still have deep faith 200 years later. It is the gift of faith we are thankful for,’ she said.
Cardinal Dew thanked the Filipino community for giving so much to the local church of Wellington. ‘I know you will continue to give because that is part of your nature. I also encourage you to continue to give thanks to God for the gift of faith and to look for ways to share it with others and to know deep in your hearts that everything we have is a gift and God is the giver behind the gift.
‘Pope Francis said of the Filipino Catholic community that we see joy evident in your lives, we see it in your eyes, on your faces, in your songs and your prayers, and in your generosity. You have brought to us, here in New Zealand, your deep gift of faith, your families have taken it to many other parts of the world. It is part of who you are. There is a joy and an infectiousness within you as you keep bringing to others the faith, the good news your ancestors received 500 years ago.’
A 500-year anniversary celebration was also held in Auckland at the Eventfinda Stadium on the North Shore, with a very large congregation of some 6,000 people attending.
The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Michael Gielen who thanked the Filipino community for all the gifts they have brought to the church and the diocese. Bishop Gielen spoke of their passion for mission, the love and care they bring to others, and the joy and hospitality they are known for.