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Papal Award means commissioning to be “beacons of light," says Philippines Cardinal

Manila Archbishop Jose Cardinal Advincula pins a gold medal featuring the images of Apostles Peter and Paul on Manuel V. Pangilinan at the Manila Cathedral on January 17, 2024. (Photo credit: Phil Star Global)

His Eminence Jose Cardinal Advincula, Archbishop of Manila, in his homily at the Manila Cathedral on Wednesday, January 17, told the recipients of the Papal Award Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (For the Church and the Pope) that the award is not only about honoring them but commissioning them to be “beacons of light.”

The Manila Cathedral hosted the conferment, with five of the awardees nominated by Caritas Manila and four from the Archdiocesan Shrine of Saint Joseph in Santa Cruz.

Cardinal Advincula, Archbishop of Manila, presided over the Eucharistic Celebration with the Solemn Investiture Ceremonies of the Conferment of the Papal Award, alongside Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Bishop Mylo Vergara, and Bishop Honesto Ongtioco, as well as the priests of Manila, neighboring dioceses, and religious orders.

The award symbolizes exceptional service to the Catholic Church. It is the highest honor for laypeople, established by Pope Leo XIII in 1888 and made a permanent papal distinction in 1898.

Advincula said the gathering is “to celebrate the remarkable journey of faith, service, and charity.”

It is also a blessing to witness the award to Ramon del Rosario, Jr., Fernando Zobel de Ayala, Manuel Pangilinan, Arnulfo Veridico, and Maria Gonzales Goolsby, members of the Board of Trustees of Caritas Manila, and Elmer Sy and Roselina Quismundo, Tomasita Lim, and Corazon Rodriguez from the Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Joseph in Manila, added Advincula.

“We thank the Holy Father, Pope Francis, for this honor bestowed upon them in recognition of their outstanding services to the Church, especially in charity and social service,” he said.

“The award you receive today is the Church’s way of saying “thank you” because of your immense love for God, expressed in your unwavering commitment, exemplary service, and outstanding contributions to the Church and society,” said Advincula.

The award “expresses our gratitude for being our long-time partners in the mission and collaborators in evangelization,” he said.

“And so, unworthy as I am, in the name of our Holy Father Pope Francis and the Church of Manila, we thank you for your commitment to the teachings of the Church and for your selfless service, which has touched the lives of many, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of those you have served,” said Advincula.

His reminder to the awardees:  “.. to receive this honour and wear this medal with humility.  Although this award comes from the Pope, it does not raise your status in the Church nor make you a better Christian. The truth is, this award is not even an assurance of entrance to heaven.  You are being honoured today because of your good works, which is expected of every Christian."

“You are here because your lives demonstrate how you allowed God to work through you.  Your good works are not yours.  They are God’s works, and you are just his instruments.  Any goodness that we do springs not from us but from the source of all goodness, God himself. But please be humble.  Do not forget that you receive this honour because of the Lord,” said Advincula.

“You are commissioned to continue the beautiful work you have begun and to do even more.  You are sent to look for many opportunities to do good for others and make more of our brothers and sisters feel God’s care, compassion, healing, and love through you.  You are sent to be like Jesus, who, in our Gospel today, does good to anyone in need, anytime and anywhere,” said Advincula. 

He said the award does not mean the recipients can already retire from the services that they do. 

“On the contrary, the award means you must continue.  You must do more.  And you are sent to be models to inspire others to follow the path of love and service.  You are commissioned to be beacons of light.  And ‘your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father’ (Mt. 5:16),” Advincula concluded his homily.  (MTV)


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