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San Pedro Calungsod goes to Vancouver, Canada

The Vancouver Archbishop, John Michael Miller, CSB, supports the Filipino Community's initiative to enshrine San Pedro’s Icon in a local parish.

San Pedro Calungsod, a 17th-century Indio Bisaya from the central Philippines who was canonized in 2012 and proclaimed patron saint of catechists and migrants, will be enshrined in a parish church in Richmond, British Columbia, on April 19, 2024.

When Pedro Calungsod left home in the 17th century to accompany the Jesuit missionaries as an all-around helper in Acapulco and Guam, he was virtually nameless and faceless. He served as the personal assistant and sacristan or altar server to Fr. Diego Luis de San Vitores. 

In 1672, they arrived in Guam, where the Chamorros lived. It was there that they met their tragic death at the hands of villagers who resented their presence, thinking they were out to gain control of the Chamorros. The situation came to a head when tribesmen killed Calungsod while trying to shield Fr. De San Vitores.

The Society of Jesus' efforts to spearhead the beatification of Fr. Diego Luis de San Vitores eventually prompted efforts in the Cebu Archdiocese, led by then Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal (now deceased), to look into the life of the martyred young sacristan. 

Pope John Paul II beatified Fr. Diego de Sanvitores in 1985, and Pedro Calungsod was beatified on March 5, 2000. Twelve years later, on October 21, 2012, the Church canonized Calungsod, recognizing him as the only youngster and Asian saint, alongside six European and American beatos who were also canonized at the same time.

Close to 1 million people of Filipino ethnic origin are living and working in Canada.  According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, Filipino Canadians are the largest group of Southeast Asian Canadians.  A report by Statistics Canada said that most Filipino Canadians work in sales and service, health care, business, finance, administration, and trades. 

Filipino Catholics belonging to the Filipino Ministry of the Archdiocese of Vancouver are organizing the enshrinement of San Pedro’s icon in the St. Monica parish in Richmond City, British Columbia.

Bishop of Dumaguete Julito Cortes, D.D., will preside over the Eucharistic celebration with Vancouver Archbishop Miller, CSB, to mark the important occasion on April 19, 2024.

According to a former traffic officer of Cebu City, Mr. Anthony Ortega, who is now based in British Columbia and heads the Cebuano Society of Canada, Archbishop Michael Miller gave his blessings to their plan of venerating San Pedro Calungsod because of the saint’s affinity with migrant workers and the Filipinos’ vibrant faith. 

Filipino Catholics in Canada, especially those of the Visayan lineage, are devoted to the Senor Santo Nino, or Holy Child Jesus. In 2022, Vancouver Archbishop Miller, CSB, unveiled the Santo Nino Shrine at St. Anthony de Padua Parish in Agassiz, British Columbia. Vancouver Archbishop Miller, CSB, celebrated mass and presided over the blessing ceremony of the first-ever Santo Nino Shrine in North America.

The rector of the Santo Nino Shrine in Agassiz, B.C., is Fr. Dennis Flores, also the parish priest of St. Anthony de Padua. He is a native of Compostela, a northern town in Cebu province.

The Cebuano Society of Canada, a duly registered civil society group, is collaborating with Deacon Raul Abella of the Archdiocesan Filipino Ministry for the enshrinement in Saint Monica parish in Richmond City. 

Mr. Ortega said through a messenger interview that his family keeps an icon of the Visayan saint, which was gifted to him by Cebuano's charismatic leader, Nonito Limchua. This icon will be donated and enshrined in St. Monica Parish.- Malou Guanzon-Apalisok


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