Countdown to 500th anniv of PH ’First Easter Mass’ starts in Maasin diocese

Countdown to 500th anniv of PH ’First Easter Mass’ starts in Maasin diocese

Bishop Prescioso Cantillas celebrates Mass at the Maasin cathedral during the launching of the 300-day countdown to the 500th anniversary of the First Easter Mass on Limasawa Island in Southern Leyte June 4. DIOCESE OF MAASIN

By Rey Martin Reoma

June 5, 2020

Maasin City

A Catholic diocese in central Philippines has started the 300-day countdown to the quincentennial celebration of the “First Easter Mass” in the Philippines.

The celebration was highlighted with a Mass at the Maasin Cathedral presided over by Bishop Prescioso Cantillas on Thursday, June 4.

With the theme “We pray as one, we heal as one,” the launching also paid tribute to Covid-19 frontliners and prayed for the healing of the affected communities.

“We want to be healed as one, but first we need to pray as one, and the highest expression with our union with God is our union with Him through the Eucharist,” Cantillas said in his homily.

The prelate also emphasized that the people should be “one in prayer” so that healing starts.

Some priests, local officials, and a few parishioners attended the event that only allowed a limited number of people in compliance with the Covid-19 precautionary measures.

Churchgoers observe physical distancing during Mass at the Maasin Cathedral on Thursday to start the 300-day countdown to the 500th anniversary of the First Easter Mass on Limasawa Island in Southern Leyte June 4. DIOCESE OF MAASIN

The event also launched the celebration’s theme song and unveiled the countdown billboard.

After the liturgical service, Cantillas led a procession of the Blessed Sacrament around the city.

Fr. Johnrey Sibi, chairman of the Commission on the 500 years of the First Mass in Limasawa, said that special events will also mark the 200 days and 100 days leading up to the grand celebration on March 31, 2021.

Limasawa is an island at the tip of Southern Leyte province where the first Easter Mass was held in 1521 when Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his men landed.

Spanish friar Pedro de Valderrama was said to be the only priest of the Magellan expedition and was tasked to celebrate Mass on the shores of Limasawa.