Filipino Cardinal Quevedo,Papal Envoy to Japan ‘Hidden Christians’ anniversary

[update March 14, 2015]

OMI, NJ Viehland Photos

Filipino Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato – NJ Viehland Photos

Celebrations in Nagasaki began today to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the “Hidden Christians of Japan.” Pope Francis appointed Filipino Cardinal Orlando B. Quevedo, Archbishop of Cotabato, will serve as his Special Envoy at the anniversary event which will last until March 17th.

Full report here

Hidden Christians video by Journeyman YouTube

click photo to watch Journeyman Pictures’ mini-documentary on Hidden Christians

Also taking place at the Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture until April 15 is the exhibit of more than 500 items confiscated from Japanese Christians during their brutal persecution in the 19th century from the late Edo Period to the early Meiji Era, Japan Times online newspaper announced.

The Times reports that some 550 items are back in Nagasaki for the first time on display in the special exhibition “Miracles Protected by the Virgin Mary — Churches and Christian Sites in Nagasaki,” include 212 cultural properties rarely loaned out by the Tokyo National Museum at one time.

The exhibit is reportedly taking place because the central government has recommended that churches and other Christian locations in Nagasaki be listed as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites. It shows the history of Christianity in Japan from the introduction of the faith by Francis Xavier in 1549, to the birth of the “hidden Christians” caused by brutal crackdowns and the confession of their beliefs to a foreign priest by a small group of Japanese in 1865.

Cardinal Quevedo, first prelate on the southern Philippines Mindanao island to be created cardinal, has led the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) as Secretary General from 2005-2011. FABC is a Vatican-approved voluntary association of Catholic bishops’ conferences in Central, East, South and Southeast Asia.

 

Caritas Manila, Ryan Cayabyab & foundations team up in “tribute to people’s faith”

In pictures

Caritas Manila Chairman Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila and Executive Director Father Anton Pascual (left) with renowned composer-musician and papal awardee Ryan Cayabyab and Esther Santos, President of PLDT-Smart Foundation present "RISE! Rebuild from the Ruins" benefit concert they organized to support Caritas Manila's rehabilitation of churches and chapels destroyed by Haiyan in Samar and Leyte provinces. By NJ Viehland.

Caritas Manila Chairman Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila and Executive Director Father Anton Pascual (left) with renowned composer-musician and papal awardee Ryan Cayabyab and Esther Santos, President of PLDT-Smart Foundation present “RISE! Rebuild from the Ruins” benefit concert they organized to support Caritas Manila’s rehabilitation of churches and chapels destroyed by Haiyan in Samar and Leyte provinces. By NJ Viehland.

Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila was saying Mass in typhoon ravaged Palo cathedral at the close of the archdiocese’s diamond jubilee celebration last November when he witnessed with admiration the “unshakable faith” of people amidst suffering.

This, Cardinal Tagle told a press conference on Friday, was what the fund raising concert of sacred music of renowned composer and musician Ryan Cayabyab called “Rise! Rebuilding from the Ruins” on June 11 hopes to recognize. 

Cardinal Tagle recalled his Mass last year inside the church whose roof had been blown away by typhoon Haiyan. People just covered the top of the church with tarpauline material so when rain poured during Cardinal Tagle’s Mass, people and things inside got wet.

“At the end of my homily the wind blew. It rained and people panicked. They seemed allergic to the wind,” Cardinal Tagle told journalists, artists, co-organizers and partners for the concert. “One thing I appreciated was people stayed through the rain and finished the Mass,” added the cardinal who chairs the Board of Caritas Manila. 

“This is the church – the building – but this is also the living church which stays firm even when the roof blows away,” Cardinal Tagle remembers thinking to himself.

He said the “effort to rebuild the buildings made of stone and steel and iron sheets is actually not only a tribute to God or to the faith, but also a tribute to the living community and their living faith.”

Organizers, talents and supporters of the upcoming concert to be held in Manila Cathedral are also paying tribute to the physical church that serves as refuge, sanctuaries, evacuation centers and dormitories in times of crises like Haiyan, locally named Yolanda, Cardinal Tagle said.

Read full report 

 

Musician-composer Ryan Cayabyab is 60 years old and he has his "Philippines senior's card" to show journalists and guests at the May 30 press con at Arzobispado de Manila, in Intramuros to prove it. To show gratitude for his talent and to "give back to the church", Cayabyab is working with Caritas Manila, which is also celebrating it's 60th anniversary this year, to stage the June 11 benefit concert "RISE! Rebuilding from the Ruins" at the Manila Cathedral that aims to raise 20 million pesos to help rebuild 20 churches and chapels in Leyte and Samar devastated by Yolanda (Haiyan). - NJ Viehland Photos

Musician-composer Ryan Cayabyab is 60 years old and he has his “Philippines senior’s card” to show journalists and guests at the May 30 press con at Arzobispado de Manila, in Intramuros to prove it. To show gratitude for his talent and to “give back to the church”, Cayabyab is working with Caritas Manila, which is also celebrating it’s 60th anniversary this year, to stage the June 11 benefit concert “RISE! Rebuilding from the Ruins” at the Manila Cathedral that aims to raise 20 million pesos to help rebuild 20 churches and chapels in Leyte and Samar devastated by Yolanda (Haiyan). – NJ Viehland Photos

 

Ryan Cayabyab singers perform at press con at Arzobispado for RISE! Rebuilding from the Ruins, a benefit concert of sacred music on june 12 at Manila Cathedral to raise funds for reconstruction of churches and chapels in Leyte and Samar destroyed by typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). - by NJ Viehland

Ryan Cayabyab singers perform at press con at Arzobispado for RISE! Rebuilding from the Ruins, a benefit concert of sacred music on june 12 at Manila Cathedral to raise funds for reconstruction of churches and chapels in Leyte and Samar destroyed by typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). – by NJ Viehland

 

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Day of Lament and Hope in pictures

Lenten reflection – Malaysian flight disaster by Hector Welgampola

Girls sat at the foot of the altar and joined the packed Paco Church in Manila during the Day of Lament and Hope prayer service led by Cardinal Luis Tagle for the dead, their relatives and all people affected by Typhoon Haiyan in Eastern Visayas on Nov. 8, 2013, and the earthquake in Bohol Province and attack on Zamboanga City, southern Philippines just months ahead of the typhoon. NJ Viehland Photo

Girls sat at the foot of the altar and joined the packed Paco Church in Manila during the Day of Lament and Hope prayer service led by Cardinal Luis Tagle for the dead, their relatives and all people affected by Typhoon Haiyan in Eastern Visayas on Nov. 8, 2013, and the earthquake in Bohol Province and attack on Zamboanga City, southern Philippines just months ahead of the typhoon. NJ Viehland Photo

A Lenten reflection in the aftermath of the Malaysian Flight disaster

Australia, the land Down Under, has become the locus of search in the biggest air travel mystery in recent times. In a way, the shift of operational focus must have brought some relief to Malaysia.

Almost four weeks after flight ML370s went missing, Malaysian officials have begun to tire of trying to explain the mysterious disappearance of the aircraft. Equally wearied media keep looking for newer angles to avoid putting the story on the backburner. While search operations gather momentum, families and friends of the 239 persons seemingly martyred on an air-borne modern-day cross continue to hang on to fast fading hopes.

A look back at the events unfolding in the aftermath of the March 8 debacle may give some perspective. At first, reports about the missing jet seemed yet another episode in the 24-hour news cycle – one more disaster story. It did not enthuse too many. The unfolding story seemed to be limited more or less to the instinct of alert news media and routine follow-up by Malaysian Airlines.

None in authority seemed to know where the plane has gone. Others seemed less public-spirited as to share information routinely recorded in their machines. Initially, the Malaysian military and aviators of neighboring countries such as China and Thailand hesitated to share available bits of info about the unusual drift of the aircraft. Even Malaysian bureaucrats and airline officials seemed apathetic, until the families of the missing passengers lost patience. That was the turning point.

While some officials reacted poorly to the noisy protests, the heart-wrenching cries of the Chinese families wailing in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur touched the hearts of many worldwide. Such rare outpouring of fellowship elicits the best of the human spirit. Thanks to media, public grief waxed so high as to force lethargic governments to seek ways of assuaging people’s calls for action.

One positive development in this sad saga was the assurance given to passengers’ families by Malaysia’s acting transport minister. As international cooperation began to rally, he assured them that the search-and-rescue operation would continue. “As long as there is even a remote chance of a survivor, we will pray and do whatever it takes,” he said. Even though hopes of finding survivors became more and more unlikely, the prospect of recovering the remains of loved ones can sustain bereaved families. In most Asian cultures, such a prospect is essential to bring some form of closure.

Airport by NJ Viehland

No doubt, public outrage was a push factor prompting various other countries to volunteer technical information and backup not offered earlier. People’s growing frustration was later followed up with offers of equipment to search for the missing aircraft. If only such goodwill and technical support had been readily available earlier, the routinely monitored erratic path of the missing plane could have been promptly communicated. More importantly, such prompt communication may have helped save the lives of many passengers and crew.

Almost four weeks after the Malaysian Flight 370 went missing, a frantic search involving many nations is now underway for its black box. Ten airplanes and 11 ships equipped with sophisticated equipment from various countries have begun to scour the southern Indian Ocean for any such trace of the missing plane.

What has now begun is more a technological investigation to find why and how the Boeing aircraft went missing. It is not quite a search for survivors among the missing passengers and crew. According to media reports, even if the wreckage is located, there is little or no hope of their survival. Unless the flight had been hijacked elsewhere, the multi-country search off the western coast of Australia is all, too little, too late. That is tragic.

In an age when science is so advanced as to help humans reach outer space and traverse planets, there is no excuse for being ill-equipped to map and master movements in our own airspace and oceans. It is all the more unforgivable, if petty political point-scoring or regional rivalries inhibit inter-country collaboration essential for the welfare of all humans.

And as in the Tsunami or any past disaster, there is yet another unmistakable lesson here. No amount of technical equipment, no mass of scientific know-how can make up for a lack of humanitarian concern. After all, it is that godly spark called love that missions us as humans.

Hector Welgampola

Veteran Asian Church journalist Hector Welgampola from Sri Lanka has lived in Australia with his wife, Rita, since retiring as Executive Editor of the Bangkok-based Union of Catholic Asian News. Besides decades of leading and mentoring what used to be a wide network of UCAN correspondents and staff around the region and in other continents, Hector had also headed editorial teams of newspapers in Sri Lanka.

Cardinal Tagle closes Day of Lament and Hope

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle (center in white) lay prostrate before the altar after the procession of the cross during the 'Day of Lament and Hope' closing service at San Fernando de Dilao Church in Paco, Manila Nov. 16, 2013 for people who were killed, those who survived successive calamities in the country this year.- NJ Viehland Photos

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle (center in white) lay prostrate before the altar after the procession of the cross during the ‘Day of Lament and Hope’ closing service at San Fernando de Dilao Church in Paco, Manila Nov. 16, 2013 for people who were killed, those who survived successive calamities in the country this year.- NJ Viehland Photos

A Day of Lament and Hope on Nov. 16 in the Archdiocese of Manila

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle has called for a “Day of LAMENT and HOPE: Solidarity in Prayer” (Panaghoy at Pag-asa: Damayan sa Panalangin) in the Archdiocese of Manila to express communion and solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are suffering, grieving and confused because of the successive calamities that afflicted the country.

In a letter to priests, religious and lay faithful, Cardinal Tagle invites all to spend the whole day in penance, recollection, and fasting.

 He will lead in a Prayer Service and Holy Hour to cap the Day at 8 p.m. at the San Fernando de Dilao Parish church, Paco, Manila, the temporary official church of the Archdiocese of Manila.

With Jesus, the Blessed Mother, the Martyrs, and Saints, the victims, the dead and creation, let us “groan inwardly while we await redemption… for in hope we are saved” (Romans 8:23).  “The Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26). Lament and Hope: Solidarity in Prayer,” the Cardinal concluded his letter. #

Release from Archdiocese of Manila Office of Social Communication

[Part I]

Faith of Vietnam Catholics offers bright future for Church – Cardinal Rosales

By N.J. Viehland

Recently appointed Vietnamese Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Dinh Duc Dao of Xuan Loc Diocese, while serving as rector of the diocese’s Saint Joseph Seminary last December addressed delegates and participants of the Xth Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) Plenary Assembly during a cultural program held in the diocesan pastoral complex.

He expressed gratitude to the FABC  “…for the joy of faith you have brought to us…” and “have inspired in us.”

Bishop Dao told us the presence of so many bishops, priests, religious women and lay Church workers in their country at one time “… opens up our mind and heart to the whole Church of Asia, and reminds us that we have other brothers and sisters who believe in the Lord as we do, scattered in the whole of Asia.” 

The Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) is an association of conferences of bishops of Catholic Churches in South, Southeast, East and Central Asia. The federation fosters solidarity and joint responsibility for church and society welfare in the region.

The conference includes sixteen Bishops’ Conferences from Bangladesh, East Timor, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Laos-Cambodia, Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Churches in places where there are no bishops’ conferences have been included as associate members, including Hong Kong, Macau, Mongolia, Nepal, Novosibirsk (Russia), Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.

FABC gathers in plenary in various countries, and the 2012 assembly was the first to be held in a country under communist rule.

Filipino Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales (in front), Archbishop Emeritus of Manila was welcomed by a drum and bugle corps and a reception line stretching through the main roads of Xuan Loc Pastoral Complex in the diocese east of Ho Chi Minh City on Dec. 11, 2012, after he delivered his address citing Pope Benedict XVI's message to the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC). He is accompanied by Assistant of the Papal Legate Father Marcelino Antonio M. Maralit, Jr. (N.J. Viehland Photo)

Filipino Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales (in front), Archbishop Emeritus of Manila was welcomed by a drum and bugle corps and a reception line stretching through the main roads of Xuan Loc Pastoral Complex in the diocese east of Ho Chi Minh City on Dec. 11, 2012, after he delivered his address citing Pope Benedict XVI’s message to the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC). He is accompanied by Assistant of the Papal Legate Father Marcelino Antonio M. Maralit, Jr. (N.J. Viehland Photo)

Two months after the FABC plenary assembly on Feb. 28, Pope Benedict appointed Monsignor Dao auxiliary bishop for Xuan Loc. He was the last bishop appointed by Benedict XVI before he stepped down as pope.

Bishop Dao said the presence of FABC delegates “… reminds us of our responsibility to share with other brothers and sisters in Asia the joy of faith in Christ.” Less than 3 percent of the population in most countries in Asia are Catholics.

The presence of Filipino Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales as special envoy for then Pope Benedict XVI , along with Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai, secretary of the Congregation of the Evangelization of Peoples and Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, resident representative of the Holy Father to Vietnam “connect us to Rome and the Holy Father, and through the Holy Father with the whole Church,” Bishop Dao said.

He appealed to them, “Please, eminence and excellencies, convey to our beloved Holy Father, our love, our respect and our obedience. Please tell him that he has children here who are faithful to Christ and to the Church.”

In response, Cardinal Rosales promised bishops, priests, religious men and women and lay members of the Vietnam Catholic community gathered for a cultural presentation in the diocesan pastoral complex in Xuan Loc that he would convey their message of faith, love and loyalty to the Church and to Rome.

“I want to tell him (Pope Benedict) when I see him and report to him next month what I have seen, what I have witnessed and felt about what it is really to be Church of Jesus Christ, yes, in the whole of Asia, but in particular here in Vietnam. And I will assure you…I will remind him, ‘Do not forget, your Holiness, that you have children in that part of Asia.'”

Cardinal Rosales said he would tell Pope Benedict “I know you keep them (Vietnam Catholics) in your spirit, in your prayer, in your blessing, but they want me to remind you that you have children there who not only obey the Church, but they love you.”

He said one gift he will give the pope is an embroidery he received from a Vietnam government official during his visit to Hanoi prior to the FABC assembly. “…No less than the minister interpreted it and he said, ‘Look, Your Eminence, there are two islands in a big sea. This is Vietnam, and the other one is the Vatican. All you need is a bridge.”

Cardinal Rosales, however, told hundreds of people attending the cultural program, ” I am going to explain this to the Holy Father: A bridge is about to be built, but I think I saw a boat there. If there is no bridge, there should be a boat. After all, the Holy Father is pontifex. 

In Cardinal Rosales’ view, the FABC experience showed “how bright the future is that God is preparing for Vietnam.”

END

9,000 people came to hear Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle

By: N.J. Viehland

Choir in the back, Mother Butler Guild members, some people in wheelchairs, groups in the Church's ministry to the deaf and security personnel at the Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle April 21, 2013 at Smart-Araneta Center, Quezon City, northeast of Manila / N.J. Viehland Photos

Choir in the back, Mother Butler Guild members, some people in wheelchairs, groups in the Church’s ministry to the deaf and security personnel at the Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle April 21, 2013 at Smart-Araneta Center, Quezon City, northeast of Manila / N.J. Viehland Photos

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle’s Easter Recollection was expecting a large crowd at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum last Sunday, April 21, but 9,000 people ? That is awesome.

More than the numbers, though, the mix of people I saw and spoke to was impressive: people in their 80’s, young adults in their 20’s, children, couples holding hands, nuns…

Outside the big arena, there was a lot of excitement, especially by the food stalls and tables for book and multi-media sales. Not surprising, the chatter included admiration and pride over how their cardinal was cited in the past month as possible next pope.

But inside the huge hall, especially while Cardinal Tagle spoke, all were still and quiet, interrupted periodically by bursts of laughter and applause. At one point when Cardinal Tagle shifted to a serious tone while challenging the audience to be missionaries and witness to Christ, he asked, why did you all suddenly get quiet?

The 9,000 people who spent their Sunday in an Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle April 21, 2013 included nuns, couples, young adults shown here during the break at Smart-Araneta Center. / N.J. Viehland Photo

The 9,000 people who spent their Sunday in an Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle April 21, 2013 included nuns, couples, young adults shown here during the break at Smart-Araneta Center. / N.J. Viehland Photo

Somehow, inside the big dome noted for big league and college basketball, pop concerts and the legendary “Thrilla in Manila” boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in 1975, it seemed like everyone knew each other – like neighbors in one community.

Cardinal Tagle spoke in three parts:

Focusing on Christ’s instruction to the disciples to “Go to Galilee”, he reflected on “Galilees in our life” including the hurts and frustrations, fears and failures. Cardinal Tagle said as Jesus met the disciples in Galilee after resurrecting from the dead, he also meets us and stays with us in these places of hurt, frustration, fears and failures. He helps us to know more about Him. This prepares us to “go to the ends of the earth” to tell all people about God’s love and justice, by showing these to them in the way we live and relate with others.

Cardinal Tagle urged thousands of Catholics at the coliseum and many others listening on the radio to go out and serve in mission. [Click the link to read about it.]

Several people I spoke with said they felt “inspired” to become priests, or “challenged” to be patient and influential teachers.

Catechist Mirasol Bautista and Sherry Canchela of Pansol, Quezon City hope to have patience and be effective teacher to hundreds of students after listening to Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle at the April 21, 2013 Easter Recollection in Smart-Araneta Coliseum / N. J. Viehland Photo

Catechist Mirasol Bautista and Sherry Canchela of Pansol, Quezon City hope to have patience and be effective teacher to hundreds of students after listening to Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle at the April 21, 2013 Easter Recollection in Smart-Araneta Coliseum / N. J. Viehland Photo

Aljon Carpio [left], 22 year-old religion teacher at Notre Dame of Greater Manila with Jose Miguel Pacheco, 4th year high school at University of Santo Tomas felt "inspired" and amused with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle's storytelling at the April 21, 2013 Easter Recollection in Smart-Araneta Coliseum.  / N.J. Viehland Photo

Aljon Carpio [left], 22 year-old religion teacher at Notre Dame of Greater Manila with Jose Miguel Pacheco, 4th year high school at University of Santo Tomas felt “inspired” and amused with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle’s storytelling at the April 21, 2013 Easter Recollection in Smart-Araneta Coliseum. / N.J. Viehland Photo

Finally, Cardinal Tagle celebrated Mass with Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao, which covers Quezon City, and Fr. Emmanuel “Nono” Alfonso, JesCom director.

In the end, Cardinal Tagle directed the congregation to “go to the ends of the earth” and tell others about Christ.

Here are some of the things I saw while I was at Smart-Araneta Coliseum from 8:00-past 1 p.m.

Applauding Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle as he returned to the stage for the second part of his talk for the Easter Recollection April 21, 2013 at Smart-Araneta Center in Quezon City, northeast of Manila./ N.J. Viehland Photo

Applauding Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle as he returned to the stage for the second part of his talk for the Easter Recollection April 21, 2013 at Smart-Araneta Center in Quezon City, northeast of Manila./ N.J. Viehland Photo

Orchestra playing during the break in the Easter recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle April 21, 2013 at Smart-Araneta Coliseum / N. J. Viehland Photo

Orchestra playing during the break in the Easter recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle April 21, 2013 at Smart-Araneta Coliseum / N. J. Viehland Photo

 

Breaktime at Smart-Araneta Coliseum during the April 21, 2013 Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle - not exactly up-scale dining , but lots of a different kind of "nourishment" / N.J. Viehland Photos [display of brands not an endorsement]

Breaktime at Smart-Araneta Coliseum during the April 21, 2013 Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle – not exactly up-scale dining , but lots of a different kind of “nourishment” / N.J. Viehland Photos [display of brands not an endorsement]

Bringing the faith to the people: The 1975 "Thrilla", was in fact the legendary Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier boxing match. Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle on April 21,2013 ended with Mass for Good Shepherd Sunday. N.J. Viehland Photos [Product logos are not an endorsement by this blog.]

Bringing the faith to the people: The 1975 “Thrilla”, was in fact the legendary Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier boxing match. Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle on April 21,2013 ended with Mass for Good Shepherd Sunday. N.J. Viehland Photos [Product logos are not an endorsement by this blog.]

 

After the Easter Recollection at Smart-Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Sunday TV program followers offered support for The Word Exposed featuring Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle / N.J. Viehland Photos

After the Easter Recollection at Smart-Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Sunday TV program followers offered support for The Word Exposed featuring Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle / N.J. Viehland Photos

Cardinal Tagle and “Superstar”

By : N.J. Viehland

“Looking forward to The Word Exposed Easter recollection with Cardinal Tagle this Sunday. 8am-12nn at Araneta @JesComPH.” This is what tv news anchor and correspondent Bernadette Sembrano tweeted on Friday.

It’s perfectly understandable, Bernadette. Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle isn’t called “superstar” for nothing.

Long before Manila’s archbishop, Cardinal Tagle, drew raves as “possible next pope” in past months, he had already built a reputation as “speaker who will reach deep in your mind and heart”, and a broad following among retreat groups and congresses in the Philippines and other countries. No one I’ve spoken to after his talks has come out unmoved.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle explains to Catholics from around Manila and surrounding dioceses the theology and spirit behind the Year of Faith and what New Evangelization requires of all Church members during a seminar at Manila Archdiocese's Layforce center in San Carlos Seminary compound last Nov. 2012. [N.J. Viehland Photo]

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle explains to Catholics from around Manila and surrounding dioceses the theology and spirit behind the Year of Faith and what New Evangelization requires of all Church members during a seminar at Manila Archdiocese’s Layforce center in San Carlos Seminary compound last Nov. 2012. [N.J. Viehland Photo]

He is a charismatic speaker, many agree. More than that, I believe he is effective, even infectious, because he keeps his focus steadily on the true “superstar”, Jesus Christ, and fully commits to making Christ’s story relevant to the audience and to life. “Cardinal (Tagle) makes the most out of each interaction with people, no matter the length of time,” one catechist at last November’s Layforce seminar on the Year of Faith told me.

Cardinal Tagle marvels at the power of media, particularly, the Internet, and acknowledges the opportunity it presents to tell people about Jesus, and what he teaches us.

He asked us during his talk at the First Catholic Social Media Summit in Marikina City last July, “How many people can I reach with my homilies in church?” He recalled the story of an overseas worker who came up to him at the airport to tell him he likes to watch his The Word Exposed videos on YouTube especially because he cannot go to the few Masses held in Saudi Arabia where he works.

Weekly, Cardinal Tagle preaches on TV through The Word Exposed, whose producers organized tomorrow’s recollection. In front of the camera, the theologian bishop shares his reflections and insights on the First Reading, Second Reading and the Gospel for that Sunday.

The program, which uses illustrations, video clips, music and other media, is posted on YouTube after the TV show has been aired. It aims “to bring the Gospel closer to the lives of the audience,” explained New Media Manager Mari Bianca Orenciana.

Cardinal Tagle’s The Word Exposed is right at the “top of the list” of “success stories” of Jesuit Communications Foundation (JesCom) that produces the program, foundation director, Father Emmanuel “Nono” Alfonso, says.

“It is our answer to the need of Philippine media and society today for sound theology,” the Jesuit priest said in our interview last August.

Cardinal Tagle, a leading theologian in Asia has also served as consultant to the Vatican’s International Theological Commission. He heads the Office of Theological Concerns of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, an association of bishops’ conferences in East, Southeast, Central and South Asia.

The Word Exposed episode : Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle (bishop here) explains Church concerns about the Reproductive Health Bill with Jesuit Father Emmanuel "Nono" Alfonso, currently Director of Jesuit Communications Foundation, that produces The Word Exposed. (screen shot courtesy of JesCom)

The Word Exposed episode : Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle (bishop here) explains Church concerns about the Reproductive Health Bill with Jesuit Father Emmanuel “Nono” Alfonso, currently Director of Jesuit Communications Foundation, that produces The Word Exposed. (screen shot courtesy of JesCom)

In its August 12, 2012 episode in which Cardinal Tagle preached on the Sunday Gospel, YouTube user “elmsvd” commented, “I’m a priest here in New Zealand, and I have used the reflections as guide for my homilies.”

However, it took a winding path for the program to firm up and grow popular. Father Alfonso recalled that while still bishop of Imus, Cavite, Cardinal Tagle taught at Jesuit-owned Loyola School of Theology on the same campus where JesCom is based. JesCom got him for two-minute television prayer segments and, feeling it wasn’t enough, the organization experimented on an hour-long program called Light Talk  in 2008. The taped show featured the bishop talking about a subject with expert guests.

“Viewers commented and I, too, felt dissatisfied not to hear enough of the bishop, so we changed the format, and the rest is history,” Father Alfonso said.

Tony Boy Cojuangco when he owned the secular station TV5 approached JesCom to produce programs for the first three hours of broadcast on Saturday and Sunday morning. Light Talk was developed, but as the TV station changed management the show was cancelled.

“It was timely to experiment on another format, The Word Exposed, but we had no money, so we just appealed and people started giving,” Father Alfonso said.

“Very honestly, Archbishop Chito (Cardinal Tagle), in front of the camera, said that if you like our reflections you can help us continue this show if you can donate,” the JesCom director narrated.

Catechists, teachers, youth ministry, liturgical ministry and other workers for a "Church of the Poor" in Manila and neighboring dioceses listened to Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle's presentation about the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization at Layforce center in Manila archdiocese's San Carlos seminary last Nov. 2012. [N.J. Viehland photo]

Catechists, teachers, youth ministry, liturgical ministry and other workers for a “Church of the Poor” in Manila and neighboring dioceses listened to Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle’s presentation about the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization at Layforce center in Manila archdiocese’s San Carlos seminary last Nov. 2012. [N.J. Viehland photo]

Today, the show thrives in what the audience gives. “Individuals, rich and poor, Filipinos and non-Filipinos here and abroad,” pitch in what money they can give, Father Alfonso said. “There’s no funding agency, no corporations buying commercial spots. It’s really just the audience and some donations from organizations,” he added.

He said JesCom’s websitehas online donation features  , “but people also hand over bills to Jesuit priests after Mass in their parishes, even just 100 pesos (US$2.43), and tell them to please give the money to bishop (Tagle).”

The JesCom head attributes “overwhelming response” locally, from Australia, the US and other countries to people’s perception of Cardinal Tagle as a credible theologian, Church leader and a person of integrity. 

Even prominent personalities, such as Washington Sycip, founder of Sycip, Gorres, Velayo and Co., the Philippines largest multi-professional services firm were moved to send in what an SGV official told me was a “personal donation.” In sending his one-time donation, he wrote how hopeful he was that then Bishop Tagle would lead the Church to improve, Father Alfonso said.

He shared that Knights of Columbus had committed to a regular monthly donation of around 50,000 pesos. “We would like that, for donors to give regularly,” Father Alfonso said.

He estimates, “It costs at least 40,000 pesos to produce a show, and the biggest expense is for the crew.” He said Cardinal Tagle is given only “a small token.”

JesCom also produces other programs and multi-media materials for evangelization and education, and trains people in communication at The Garage creative technologies center.

The Easter recollection its The Word Exposed group organized can expect to gather another large and colorful crowd, including Bernadette, to come and listen to their brilliant, charming, funny cardinal from 8 a.m. to noon at the concert, circus, and basketball landmark: Smart Araneta Coliseum, in Cubao, Quezon City.

Hopefully, if candidates for the May 13 general elections join, it will be to worship God and reflect on leadership as caring and serving their people like the Good Shepherd does, and not to campaign for themselves.

END