500 YOC CLOSING. Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma attends a press briefing to discuss the activities related to the culmination of the 500th Year of Christianity (YOC) with the simultaneous holding of the holy masses in all parishes of the Archdiocese of Cebu and a solemn procession in Cebu City on Sunday (April 24, 2022). Also in attendance during the press briefing were 500 YOC secretary-general, Fr. Mhar Balili (left) and Archdiocesan Vicar General, Msgr. Ruben Labajo. (Photo courtesy of Fr. Fhelmar Castrodes Fiel)

CEBU CITY – The Archdiocese of Cebu will formally close the 500th Year of Christianity (YOC) celebration on Sunday with the simultaneous holding of holy masses at all the parishes and a solemn procession in this capital city, Archbishop Jose Palma on Friday said.
 
In a press briefing, Palma said Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines president and Caloocan Archbishop Pablo Virgilio David will preside the main mass at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral at 11 a.m., while parish priests will also say the mass in their respective parishes.
 
Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop John Brown will concelebrate the mass at the cathedral and will read the message of Pope Francis, Palma said.
 
The prelate said part of the closing celebration is the coronation of the Nuestra Señora Patrocinio de Maria in Cebu’s southern town of Boljoon on Saturday afternoon.
 
Palma thanked the Cebuanos for supporting the Roman Catholic Church in Cebu in celebrating the arrival of the Christian faith in Cebu some 500 years ago, and the involvement of spreading such faith in other countries of the world.
 
“To us I would like to thank you, especially the media for having journeyed with us… But these are the days when the involvement and participation have become more intense and more significant in the sense that a lot of people are watching us, are joining us. And certainly, the spirit of thanksgiving and in the spirit of gratitude of the Lord, realizing that we are gifted to give, we own that blessing from the Lord and we accept as well the invitation, the challenge to share what we have received,” Palma said.
 
Fr. Mhar Balili, secretary-general of 500th YOC, said that after the simultaneous conduct of the mass, all the parish and the cathedral will also do the consecration to the Sr. Sto. Niño de Cebu and procession of the holy image at each parish vicinity, while the congregation sings the “Bato Balani sa Gugma” (Magnet of Love).
 
Balili said Palma will officially declare the closing of the 500th YOC at the cathedral.
 
The main mass at the cathedral will begin with a processional rite that will start at the historical landmark, the Magellan’s Cross to symbolize the arrival of Christianity by the act of the Spanish in planting the cross on April 14, 1521.
 
The archdiocese will also conduct a send-off ceremony for the 20 members of the Couples for Christ and 10 religious priests, brothers, and nuns who will go as missionaries abroad.
 
Msgr. Ruben Labajo, vicar general, told reporters that on Sunday at 4 p.m., the church will hold a solemn procession to mark the end of the celebration starting at the Cebu provincial capitol to the cathedral, passing by the whole stretch of the Osmeña Blvd.
 
“There were many activities (being) canceled during this celebration because of the pandemic. So you could just imagine how much we pray this closing event will really push through. So now, we are thankful to God for granting us our petitions,” Labajo said, stressing the significance of this event to the Filipinos for sharing God’s blessing of Christian faith to other places in Asia and the world.
 
On Sunday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., holy masses at the churches in Cebu City will be suspended to allow the team ministries and the parishioners to join the procession. (PNA)