Seasoned actress Nova Villa receives papal award

Seasoned actress Nova Villa receives papal award

Actress Nova Villa receives the Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice from Pope Francis. PHOTO COURTESY OF EGBERT DIZON

By Minnie Agdeppa

January 15, 2021

Manila, Philippines

Pope Francis has awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross to seasoned actress Nova Villa for her distinguished service to the Church.

The award, also known as the Cross of Honor, was conferred on Villa by Bishop Roberto Gaa of Novaliches during Mass at San Lorenzo Parish Church in Tandang Sora, Quezon City on Jan. 14.

Villa, whose full name is Novelita Villanueva-Gallegos, was given the papal honor for “evangelizing” the entertainment industry and for being an “effective” agent of New Evangelization.

In his homily, Bishop Gaa stressed the “communal blessing and responsibility” the papal award brings not just to Villa but also to other parishioners.

“It becomes a communal responsibility not just for her, but also for you— for her to live out her part of the deal and likewise for you to live out your part of the deal, for you to stand proud also that one among you has been given this recognition,” he said.

“There’s a certain pride but also there’s a certain responsibility together with her, that you may also live out this award humbly, responsibly, and lovingly,” the prelate added.

Villa, who became an actress after being discovered by the late Fernando Poe, Jr. in 1964, said she feels unworthy of the award, something that she “never even imagined”.

A broadcaster of Radio Veritas for 14 years, Villa said that amidst the “fame, convenience, and joy brought by celebrity life and its temptations”, she considered “Jesus as the King of her life”.

This love for God, she also said, led to serving in the parish and joining some religious organizations including the Mother Butler Guild.

“After 56 years in show business, my dream, my ambition, turned into a mission,” Villa said.

“I strive to live His teachings and commands. And to nurture and strengthen my trust and faith, I go to Mass daily and pray,” she added.

Villa also likened her papal award to a light in the darkness during the Covid-19 pandemic wherein “the entire human race is covered in fear, in suffering and insecurities”.

“And in the midst of this darkness, my humble person was granted such a big blessing–a meteor that crackled in the darkness giving light and inspiration so that I may continue what I have become accustomed to in helping others in as much as I can,” she said.

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