THE Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) declared the Year of the Clergy and the Religious from December 03, 2017 to November 25, 2018. This is to prepare the faithful for the March 16, 2021 – the 5th centenary or 500 years of the coming of Christianity in the Philippines. We are now on the 6th year of the nine-year journey (Novena) to 2021.

In July 2012, the CBCP announced the “nine-year journey for the New Evangelization,” with a different theme for each year: Year of Integral Faith Formation (2013); Year of the Laity (2014); Year of the Poor (2015); Year of the Eucharist and the Family (2016); Year of the Parish as a Communion of Communities (2017); Year of the Clergy and Religious (2018); Year of the Youth (2019); Year of Ecumenism and Inter-Religious Dialogue (2020); and Year of Missio ad gentes [mission to the nations] (2021).

The first Mass in the Philippines was celebrated in Limasawa  on Easter Sunday, March 31, 1521. It was also then when Rajah Humabon and his wife Hara Amihan were baptized and given the Christian name Carlos and Juana, respectively. History stated that Ferdinand Magellan gifted these two first Catholics in the country with the image of Santo Niño de Cebu. The year 2021 will be “a year of great jubilee for the Church in the Philippines.”