Pilgrimage for next 500 years of Christianity in PH begins
GUAGUA, Pampanga — Catholic priest Fr. Robert Reyes began here on Tuesday the planting of 500 crosses and 500 trees by 500 youth in 98 dioceses nationwide to mark the next 500 years of Christianity in the country.
“We have decided to make a pilgrimage to renew, deepen and strengthen our faith as well as plant the seeds of the new mission for the next 500 years,” Reyes told the Inquirer in a phone interview from the former town of Betis, now a part of Guagua town.
Betis’ patron, St. James the Apostle, inspired the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Compostela in Galicia, Spain. The “Replant the Cross, Replant the Faith Pilgrimage” is done on the quincentenary of Christianity in the country, reckoned from the arrival of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in the Visayas region.
The launch was timed with the feast day of San Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint.
Reyes said the next 500 years are “fraught with fear,” having started with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Instead of caving in and losing faith, we choose to believe and strengthen our faith in the God of life, healing, and salvation,” said Reyes.
The pilgrimage, which was coordinated with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, sought to renew faith, reaffirm human dignity and human rights, reconnect with nature, reconcile, build peace and promote good governance and re-evangelize the youth for the Christian mission.
Riding from his parish in Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Quezon City, Reyes walked from the lahar-sunken town of Bacolor in Pampanga alongside John Raphael Mendoza, a 22-year-old- journalism student, and Ickoy Hobayan, a 32-year-old executive assistant in an automobile company.
Reaching Betis at past 4 p.m., they joined five young women who planted Narra trees before attending a Mass celebrated by Fr. Raul de los Santos at the Betis Church.
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