MSP GOLDEN JUBILEE CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF DOING MISSION and BEYOND
by Fr. Jonathan Germinanda, MSP
A Golden Jubilee is a milestone event that not only calls for a grand celebration through festivities but most importantly, it offers significantly unique opportunities: to remember the past and recall the grace-filled moments in one’s life and the many great things that God has done, to ponder on the present condition of one’s life and appreciate what it has become and eventually to look forward to the future with enthusiasm and vigor. In many ways, these are what I saw that have transpired, and hoped to have been brought forth, during the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Foundation of the Mission Society of the Philippines.
Looking back at the Golden Jubilee Celebrations
For six days, in April 27-May 2, 2015, the MSP Seminary in Tayud, Consolacion, Cebu became a place of celebrations and festivities. This secluded and usually quiet location was the venue for the culminating activities of the MSP’s Golden Jubilee celebrations. The months, weeks and days leading to this momentous event were especially filled with lots of preparations and organizations as well as eager and joyful expectations.
An Extraordinary Gathering of MSP Priests
The MSP Golden Jubilee was a momentous event that saw the extraordinary gathering of MSP priests since most probably this was the only time where there were almost 50 priests gathered at a single time. The festivities began as MSP priests, coming from their different mission areas, arrived in Tayud on April 26. The following days would then become an opportunity to bond with each other through the various activities that have been planned out. First was a day of recollection given by Most Rev. Buenaventura Famadico, Bishop of San Pablo, Laguna. It was a fitting start for all of us present as Bishop Famadico guided us to reflect on the theme of this jubilee celebration: “Growing in Faith, Serving in Love”. The following day, we were privileged to have with us His Eminence, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, who shared with us “The MSP Story” as he recounted the early years in the history of the Society giving us a glimpse of the divinely inspired events that started what is now the MSP and the succeeding years that followed thereafter when it was confronted by crises and difficulties. There is no doubt in the good Cardinal’s story that indeed God has worked in His mysterious ways to keep the Society alive and become what it is now. These two days of reflection was indeed an opportunity for us to look back and be grateful to Him who has sustained us and to those who sacrificed a lot and gave of themselves for the good of the Society.
The third day, on the other hand, was spent as a kind of consultation and open discussion on the present immediate needs in the life of the Society as a whole. It was also a day for bonding with former MSP members.
A Gathering of the MSP Lay Partners - FMAAs and FYMs
As the Clergy Days were about to end on the third day, April 29, the lay partners of the Society also began to arrive. Again, this too, was perhaps the largest gathering of the FMAA and FYM. There were more than 250 delegates who came from all the regions in the whole country where they are presently active. Their presence made the MSP Family whole and it was fitting for them, who have continuously supported the MSP clergy with their prayers and resources, to have witnessed the following day, April 30, the Ordination to the Priesthood Fr. Anton Crema, MSP at the Blessed Sacrament Parish in Cebu City. On the same day, he also celebrated his First Thanksgiving Mass at the MSP Seminary in Tayud. To the excitement of everyone, the Grand Finals of the Song Writing Contest was held in the evening which witnessed the beautiful and heart-warming compositions on the theme Eucharist and Mission.
Continuing the golden jubilee celebrations, May 1 was devoted to activities for the FMAA and FYM delegates. In the morning, Archbishop Ramon Arguelles was the guest speaker and he talked about the theme: “The Filipino Laity in the Mission of the Church”. Being someone who was also instrumental to the growth of the Society, he too had a lot to share about the early years of the MSP. In the afternoon, Fr. James Kroeger, MM gave an extensive and enlightening talk on “The Laity in Mission – the Maryknoll Experience” after which was a lively open forum.
Any FMAA and FYM gathering would not be complete without a Night of Cultural Presentations showcasing various and unique talents and cultures of the delegates and from where they come from. The FMAA/FYM Day was culminated by this joyful evening to the great delight and enthusiasm of everyone.
The Golden Jubilee celebration was culminated by the Solemn Pontifical Celebration of the Eucharist at the Cebu Cathedral presided by His Excellency, Archbishop Jose Palma together with Bishop Edwin de la Pena, who gave a very inspiring homily, and some Bishops and Priests representing the mission areas where the MSP works such as in Japan, Taiwan and Australia. The cathedral was also filled by lay people, the FMAA, FYM, benefactors and friends of the MSP. Everyone present was surely inspired and moved by this significant occasion as we all looked back and recognized the hand of God moving the Society to where it is now.
A Celebration of 50 years of Mission
The celebration to commemorate the 50th Founding Anniversary of the MSP was not just about the festivities held for six days. It was more than that. It is about the 50 long years of existence of a group of Filipino missionaries sent by the Philippine Church when it was founded by the Philippine Bishops as a living memorial of the gratitude we have for the gift of faith that we have received. It was 50 years ago when a group of Filipino missionaries were sent out and made their presence felt in the field of mission and courageously responded to the missionary challenges they encountered. Since its foundation, the MSP has committed itself to the mission ad gentes, and for which the MSP missionaries have spent their life and ministry in establishing and assisting young churches, particularly in Asia and Oceania. In doing mission to these countries, they have been involved not only in the proclamation of the Christian faith but also in dialogue with people of other faiths and cultures. Responding to the invitation of mission in the West and in first world countries, the MSP has also opened itself to a new missionary commitment. This opened the doors for the MSP to a ‘wider scope’ of missionary endeavors. These ways of doing mission have been the means for which the MSP has expressed and live out its missionary spirituality and commitment thereby giving witness to the Gospel.
The MSP Golden Jubilee is a milestone event as the Society continues to be a living sign of gratitude to God of the Philippine Church as she participates in the mission of the Universal Church. United with the whole Church, the MSP is challenged to continuously become effective proclaimers of the Gospel through effective methods and means of transmitting the Good News of Christ. As the MSP looked back with gratitude for the 50 long years of its existence and celebrated this with ‘golden celebrations’, may it also look forward to its future missionary endeavors with ‘golden motives and initiatives’ that will truly enable the Society to become truly faithful to her missionary mandate.
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