500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines
Deacon Patrick Constantino
It’s really a great honor to be part of the celebration of the 500 Years of Christianity in our treasured homeland, the Philippines!
I was born in America and received my Christianity teachings from my Mom and Dad who came here seeking a new life and better opportunities.
I thought I learned a lot of Filipino cultural traditions from my parents. But there is a lot more to learn. Our priest who I worked with taught me a lot of traditions: Feast of Saints, Flores de Mayo, Misa de Gallo, prayer devotions, you name it, they got it! Our priests who are here and came before us continued these traditions which was brought from the Philippines and, thanks to our Bishop Larry Silva who made all the arrangements and continue to bring them here, have made a great impact in our Diocese of Hawai‘i a better place to continue our Faith Formation and to strengthen our Love of God and example of a good Christian. To love God as He loves us and make a difference in spreading the Good News of the Gospel.
In 1521, Christianity arrived in the Philippines. 2021 marks the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines. Before the pandemic, a grand statewide celebration was being planned. For now, it will be a somewhat muted celebration officially beginning on March 16, 2021 with a Thanksgiving Mass at 6 p.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in downtown Honolulu. The chief celebrant will be Bishop Larry Silva, with Fr. Pascual Abaya, Rector of the Cathedral as the Homilist.
I invited Fr. Edmundo N. Barut, Jr. to share some of his thoughts on the celebration, themed “Gifted to Give.”
Based on the introductory part of the Pastoral Letter for 2021 Year of ‘Missio Ad Gentes,’ the Philippine Church rejoices as it enters a national celebration of the 500 Years of Christianity in our treasured homeland. As stated by Romulo G. Valles, D.D., Archbishop of Davao and President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, on November 29, 2020: “Five centuries ago, we received the marvelous gift of the Christian faith; our hearts overflow with joy and gratitude. Why of all the nations and peoples in Asia was the Philippines chosen by God to be among the first to receive this precious gift? The clear answer is simply this: God’s magnanimous, overflowing love.”
It is with joy to recall our very own bishop, the Most Rev. Larry Silva, Bishop of Honolulu, in a Letter dated 3 December 2019 and addressed to priests and parishioners said “In Hawai‘i, a great majority of immigrants here are Filipinos who brought with them their tradition, culture and most importantly, their faith. And so, I am calling for our participation in that great jubilee but our celebration will be done locally in our islands. And we will call them: “500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines—Hawai‘i celebration.” Our beloved Bishop Silva also in that Letter reminded us “The 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines—Hawai‘i celebration is meant to be inclusive and not an exclusive celebration among our Filipino brethren.” And so, efforts were done to disseminate this information through the celebration of Misa de Gallo or Simbang Gabi in 2019 and in 2020.
Despite the challenges caused by the global pandemic that led to the cancellation of most of the planned activities in the past, Bishop Silva expressed his desire still to celebrate this milestone with a Eucharistic celebration at the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace on March 16, 2021, 6 p.m.
As we gather, we are always reminded to follow approved guidelines and directives and be conscious of the safety and good health of everyone. Due to limited seating, to attend the Eucharistic celebration in person, it is by invitation and/or it will be by reservation. To participate, it will be on livestream at facebook.com/HonoluluCathedralBasilica. Our main contact persons on Maui are Deacon Pat Constantino and Msgr. Terry Watanabe.
For other details, contact Fr. Edmundo N. Barut, Jr., Pastor, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Ewa Beach, Hawai‘i.
Working with all our Filipino priests is a joy. They bring “Ti Biag Ken Pammati (Life and Faith).” It’s through working with them and learning from them I have come to appreciate our culture a lot.
To me, there is a difference because I was born in America. But I’m still learning, even when I’m older. I love the spirituality, commitment, devotion, respect and Love they have for our God.
I also feel blessed by the Gift of the Holy Spirit in having great mentors come here from our native land and share these beginnings of our Philippines’ Christianity.
Our theme is “Gifted to Give.” We are truly gifted by God and what we give of ourselves is our gift to God!
Let us all have a great celebration filled with love, peace and faith. Life will never be the same as we share our Faith with one another. I pray this celebration not only increases our Ti Biag Ken Pammati (Life and Faith) but also increase our Life in God and in our Love for God.
Like our parents, families and friends who came to Hawai‘i before us, let us continue our Philippines’ cultural traditions and live in the presence of God, to live, love, in peace and share that love and faith with everyone here on earth.
Keep the faith. Share the love. God is good … all the time.
Jesus, I trust in You! Amen!
On June 18, 1987, Patrick Constantino was ordained as the first Deacon of Filipino ancestry for the Roman Catholic Church in Hawai‘i. For twenty-two years, he served as Administrator at Holy Rosary Church in Pāia, St. Rita Church in Ha‘ikū and St. Gabriel Church in Ke‘anae. Constantino is presently assigned to St. Joseph Church in Makawao.
Prior to his ordination, Constantino was in government—first appointed in 1966 as Assistant Sergeant of Arms by the Speaker of the House Elmer F. Cravalho. When Cravalho became Maui’s first Mayor, Constantino became his Executive Assistant—the first of Filipino ancestry. Later, Constantino became the first County Treasurer of Filipino ancestry and the first County Grants Administrator and Risk Manager of Filipino ancestry.
Constantino has served as a Deacon for thirty-three years and married to his lovely wife Corazon for fifty-nine years.