Archdiocese of Newark celebrates 500th anniversary of Catholicism in the PHL

A replica of the Jubilee Cross flanked by statues of the Santo Nino de Cebu and Our Lady of Manaoag. Photo: The Archdiocese of Newark

The Archdiocese of Newark, in conjunction with the Diocese of Paterson, is honoring the 500th anniversary of the first Mass in the Philippines with a year-long Jubilee Celebration consisting of a special pilgrimage and several other cultural festivities that will enable Filipino parishioners to give thanks for their faith.

Those participating in the pilgrimage will follow a replica of the Jubilee Cross — which Ferdinand Magellan erected at the first Mass in the Philippines 500 years ago — and statues of Santo Nino de Cebu and Our Lady of Manaoag as they travel each month to 12 churches with large Filipino populations throughout the Archdiocese.

Additionally, all parishioners are invited to attend a celebration of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila and Saint Pedro Calungsod at Newark’s Sacred Heart Cathedral Basilica in September, followed by the observance of Simbang Gabi at the Cathedral on December 14. Then, in March 2022, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Newark, will celebrate an anniversary Mass commemorating the Gospel’s arrival in the Philippines on March 31, 1521.

Cardinal Tobin recently wrote a pastoral letter acknowledging the exemplary faith of Filipino Catholics around the world, including the 46 priests and 56,361 parishioners within the Archdiocese.

“Today, millions of Filipino migrants present in some 200 countries share the gift of faith they have received,” Cardinal Tobin said in his letter, available at “In their new homes, Filipinos faithfully live their Christian faith, often in unassuming and unheralded ways. They preach the Gospel by their actions. In parishes and communities, they take an active part in worship while serving as members of the choir, readers, Eucharistic ministers, catechists, and volunteers in so many parish activities. They enrich their parishes with a rich array of beautiful cultural and religious traditions. In countries where the practice of the Christian faith is difficult, even dangerous, I have witnessed courageous Filipino Catholics who find ways to come together and worship.”

To accommodate such fervent devotion, the Archdiocese has incorporated Filipino religious traditions into the Jubilee Cross pilgrimage. Each month, the church hosting the cross will highlight one Filipino faith expression or popular devotion like Flores de Mayo, the monthlong May festival celebrating Mary. Pilgrims are encouraged to call each parish to inquire about its celebration plans.

A full schedule is available online of when each church will host the Jubilee Cross, along with what type of faith expression or devotion it will offer during that month.

“It’s like finding home away from home,” said Reverend JM Manolo A. Punzalan, the pastor of the Immaculate Conception Church in Mahwah who spearheaded the pilgrimage. “Even though they’re here, they can still celebrate the richness of our culture and tradition as Filipino Catholics.”

After attending Mass in the cross’ presence, participants can have a special Pilgrim Passport stamped by a church representative. Passports that have been stamped at least 10 times will be entered into a raffle at the pilgrimage’s end in March 2022. Prizes include pilgrimage trips to the Holy Land for two separate winners.

“So many Filipinos dream of one day making it to the Holy Land, but it is often not financially possible,” Father Manolo said. “This is a way of letting them go for that goal while joyfully bringing Filipinos together to celebrate the gift of faith and inspire them to give it to others.”

To request a Pilgrim Passport, inquire at one of the participating churches or contact Reverend Manolo at 973-570-6088 or Click here to access the full program for the year-long 500th anniversary celebration.

Leave a Reply