Cardinal Tagle Leads Filipino Celebration at Cathedral Mass

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral housed a dual Filipino celebration June 1 with a Solemn Pontifical Mass to mark the 40th anniversary of the San Lorenzo Ruiz movement in the United States as well as the closing of the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, a native of the Philippines who is prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, served as principal celebrant. Archbishop Gabrielle Caccia, papal nuncio to the United Nations, was principal concelebrant.

Cardinal Dolan, delivering opening remarks, said, “My brothers and sisters, how welcome you are here at St. Patrick’s Cathedral to praise God, the 40th anniversary of the San Lorenzo Ruiz movement here in the United States and especially the closing celebration of the 500th anniversary of the evangelization of the Philippines,” he said. “Five hundred years, thanks be to God.”

The San Lorenzo Ruiz movement was begun in 1982 by six Filipino priests and eight lay people from New York and New Jersey. 

San Lorenzo was a 17th-century saint who was tortured and executed for refusing to recant his faith in Japan. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1987 as the first Filipino saint.

Christianity first arrived in the Philippines with the European settlers in 1521. In 2019, the Philippines had the third largest Catholic population in the world, essentially recording the same number of baptisms as all European nations combined.

“Our faith brings us together, and in times of distress or anything like that, this is who we go to,” Maria Marden, a 59-year-old parishioner of Assumption in Centereach, L.I., told CNY. “Our faith gives us encouragement to live life. I believe with my faith I can live through anything. 

“I lost my husband when my kids were young, and through my faith and my Catholic community, I was able to survive it.”

In his homily, Cardinal Tagle spoke of the two anniversaries and often referred to the “Gifted to Give” theme being promoted in the Philippines in conjunction with the 500th anniversary.

“We marvel at the gift of faith,” he said. “It is a gift. We did not produce it. It came to us. It is by God's design, mercy and graciousness, and we should recognize it as a gift that must be accompanied by humility. 

“Don’t stop giving it as a gift. The moment we stop sharing the gift, the gift disappears. Faith as a gift grows in the sharing, in the giving. The moment we keep it to ourselves, when we hold it, it stops becoming a gift. Then it withers.”

Near the conclusion of his homily, Cardinal Tagle spoke about San Lorenzo, calling the saint “a good example of someone who has received the gift and has given the gift.”

“San Lorenzo Ruiz  was given the chance to recant,” he said. “He could have saved his life by saying simply I am not a Christian. He said, ‘I am a Christian. I cannot deny that gift and I will not betray the giver of the gift. So I declare to all of you that I am a Christian, and if I had a thousand lives, I will give each one of them to the Lord.’”

Ms. Marden gratefully received the message of Cardinal Tagle’s homily.

“The gift you are given, you are supposed to share it and just don't keep it,” she said. “So by sharing, others will come and share their gift as well. You’re helping and strengthening your faith.”

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