The papal nuncio to Spain led the celebration of the quincentennial of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines this week, praising migrant Filipinos for being “missionaries” to the world.
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, apostolic nuncio to Spain, said Filipino migrants are the “fruits” of the Church born in the Philippines in the 1500s through the work of Spanish missionaries.
He lauded the Filipinos as the “best missionaries” of the Church who played an important role in ensuring that the Church remains vibrant and relevant.
“You have become the best missionaries of our Church,” said Archbishop Auza. “Almost everywhere, Filipinos are there. And the first place we look for and where we gather is the church,” he said.
The archbishop led the celebration of the Mass to mark the opening of the Jubilee Year in the Philippines on Easter Sunday, April 4.
More than a hundred Filipinos attended the celebration held at the Parroquia de San Francisco Javier y San Luís Gonzaga.
“What a privilege to be in Spain, where it all began,” said Archbishop Auza, a Filipino who has been the papal nuncio to Spain and Andorra since January 2020.
The archbishop urged the Filipinos to pray for the Church in Spain, which “has been experiencing a crisis of vocations to the priesthood and the religious life and a waning religious practice.”
He said Filipinos today are the “inheritance and inheritors” of the faith the missionaries planted in the Philippines 500 years ago.
“We are commissioned to make that faith bear abundant fruit everywhere we are,” he said.
“As an act of giving back and of gratitude, may we then be leavens of the Joy of the Gospel here in Spain,” added the archbishop.
Present during the Mass were 10 other priests, including Society of Divine Word Father Mark Angelo Ramos, who heads the Filipino Chaplaincy in Madrid.
An estimated 26,000 Filipinos work in Spain.