TODAY is Filipino Mission Sunday. This year's celebration is doubly significant as the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has deemed that the Church in the Philippines should celebrate the year 2012 as the Year of the Missions.

Our celebration this Sunday is meant to foster awareness of all Filipino Catholics about the work and ministry of our Filipino missionaries - both lay and ordained. This is the reason the bishops of the Philippines have decreed that the last week of July be especially dedicated to Filipino missionaries. We are invited to support these missionaries through our prayers and through our material assistance. This is our humble offering to their ministry of proclaiming the love of God to all the ends of the earth.

This celebration also commemorates the establishment of our first local missionary arm of the Catholic Church in the Philippines - the Mission Society of the Philippines (MSP). When the Philippine Church celebrated the 400th year of Christianity in the country in 1965, the CBCP established the society of priests whose mission it is to bring the message of salvation to other parts of the country and to the rest of Asia and the world. With the MSP, the Filipino Church evolved from a "mission-receiving" Church to a "mission-sending one. In Asia, the Mission Society of the Philippines has missions in Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. The MSP has missions in Oceania - Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, the Cook Islands, and American Samoa; in Europe - the Netherlands and England; in North America - United States of America; and in South America - Guyana.

We hope and pray that as we celebrate Filipino Mission Sunday this year with the theme "Faith received... Faith Shared," we may all realize that we all have a part in building the kingdom of God on earth. May we also acknowledge that faith, aside from being a gift that we have received, is also our responsibility. We have the responsibility to live it and share it with others. May the holiness and courage of San Lorenzo Ruiz and Blessed Pedro Calungsod - both missionaries and proclaimers of the gospel - inspire us to take up the challenge posed by the Church in this "Era of New Evangelization."