Pope to new nat’l shrine: ‘Be the center of missionary outreach’

Pope to new nat’l shrine: ‘Be the center of missionary outreach’

The San Antonio de Padua Church in the heritage town of Pila, Laguna was declared a national shrine during a Mass on April 23. ROY LAGARDE

By CBCP News

April 25, 2019

Manila, Philippines

Pope Francis has greeted the parishioners of the new National Shrine of San Antonio de Padua, and hoped that it will continue to be ‘a center of constant missionary outreach’.

As the San Pablo diocese welcomed its first national shrine, the pope said that he is praying that devotees “may all be renewed in your love of Christ”.

“May the shrine truly be a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey and the center of constant missionary outreach,” Pope Francis said.

His message was read by Papal Nuncio Archbishop Gabriele Caccia during the Mass for the declaration of the National Shrine of San Antonio de Padua in the heritage town of Pila, Laguna on April 23.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of then Philippines has approved the petition to elevate the church’s status during its plenary assembly last January.

The declaration came 17 years after Asia’s first Antonine church was declared a diocesan shrine in 2002.

Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, who led the Mass, said that he joined the event not just as CBCP head but also because of the diocese’s “little connection” to his priesthood.

In 1976, Valles was ordained priest by American Bishop Joseph William Regan, the then bishop of Tagum in Davao del Norte.

From New York, Regan led the first 11 Maryknoll priests on a mission to the Philippines in 1951.

For eight years, he served in the Laguna towns of Pakil and Paete before moving to Davao where eventually he became a bishop.

“So more than being the CBCP President, that bond of faith and service was in my heart coming here,” Valles said, drawing applause from the crowd.