Share this story

Filipino Catholics Celebrate Double Jubilee

As the Diocese of San José commemorates its 40th Anniversary, it is also a year of jubilee for the Philippines, as this is the Quincentennial Anniversary of the Christianization of the country. Ferdinand Magellan discovered the beautiful islands, later to be named Philippines after King Philip II of Spain, on March 16, 1521. The first Mass was celebrated on Easter Sunday that year.

That same year, Magellan gifted the Rajah Humabon and his chief consort, Queen Juana, on account of their baptism, the image of the Christ Child known as the Santo Niño de Cebu. Since then, the veneration of the Santo Niño has grown, becoming one of the most popular devotions in the country.

There are two canonized saints of the Philippines, San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila and San Pedro Calungsod de Cebu. Both were laymen who travelled to foreign countries, including Japan and Guam, to help spread the Gospel of Christ. The two saints are models of faith both for those who are at home and for those who have migrated to different parts of the world.

For 40 years, the Diocese of San José has had a strong Filipino Catholic community. Bishop Pierre DuMaine, instructed the Filipino clergy, under the leadership of Father Ben Manding, to create the Diocesan Council of Filipino Catholics. The Filipino clergy and the council worked together to promote, share and celebrate the rich faith and culture of the Filipinos.

Today, many of our parishes have adopted some of the Filipino fiestas to help the faithful learn about the culture, including Santo Niño Fiesta (feast of the Christ Child), Simbang Gabi (9-day novena of Masses before Christmas), Salubong (Remembrance of the Risen Lord’s encounter with Mary), Santacruzan (Commemoration of St. Helena finding the true cross), and devotion to the Blessed Mother and other saints.


  • 1995: The image of Our Lady of Antipolo is brought to the diocese before being taken to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
  • 2007: The Diocesan Council of Filipino Catholics presents the “O, Pari Ko Concert.”
  • 2009: The Filipino ministry spearheads a fundraising and relief drive for the victims of typhoons Ketsana (Ondoy) and Parma (Pepeng) in the Philippines.
  • 2010: The Second Diocesan Assembly of Filipino Catholics is held at St. Justin Parish in Santa Clara, with Bishop Patrick McGrath as the keynote speaker.
  • 2012: The Filipino community celebrates a Thanksgiving Mass for the canonization of the second Filipino saint, Pedro Calungsod.
  • 2013: The Filipino Community spearheads another relief drive for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), sending boxes of relief goods to the affected areas.
  • 2017: The first diocesan commissioning of Simbang Gabi is celebrated at St. John the Baptist in Milpitas.

As the theme of the 500th Anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines reminds us that we are “Gifted to Give!” we, the Filipino Catholics of Santa Clara Valley, join with all the faithful of the Diocese of San José in “Journeying Together in Hope,” as we share the richness of our faith and culture.

Father Ritche S. Bueza is the vicar for Filipino Ministry and pastor of Holy Spirit Parish.