The festivities — which were held as part of the National Association of Filipino Priests (NAFP-USA)’s Fourth Assembly — began with a jubilant procession of Filipino Catholics carrying items representing the Philippines’ religious traditions like Simbang Gabi and Sinulog. Archbishop Caccia then presided over a Mass where he reflected on his previous role as the Vatican’s Apostolic Nuncio in the Philippines, recalling the locals there were as warm to him as the nation’s severely humid climate. He said it was a “joy” seeing so many immigrant priests, whose willingness to move across the globe so that they can spread the gospel is truly admirable.
“To be a disciple is to be a missionary,” Archbishop Caccia said in his homily. “I remember I celebrated a Mass in the Philippines where young people went out into the sea and put floating candles in the water to symbolize the light of faith. You priests are all the light because you go and tell the good news to everyone in all parts of the world.”
The Cathedral Basilica’s gathering was one of several that occurred during the NAFP-USA’s Fourth Assembly, which ran from October 24-27 (the last week of Filipino American History Month). Other noteworthy happenings included an October 25 Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Edmund Whalen of the Archdiocese of New York. Auxiliary Bishop Michael A. Saporito from the Archdiocese of Newark also delivered a keynote address about the topic “Priesthood in a Synodal Church” on October 26 at the Hilton Meadowlands. Finally, Bishop Oscar Solis of the Diocese of Salt Lake City closed out the convention on October 27 by presiding over a Mass celebrating the importance of journeying together as Filipino priests.
New Jersey is home to 143,845 Filipinos — according to 2018 U.S. Census Bureau data — with a 2023 Pew Research Center survey finding that most Filipino Americans (54%) identify as Catholic. To engage them, the Archdiocese of Newark’s Filipino Apostolate offers spiritual programs, gatherings, and social justice initiatives. Learn more by visiting the apostolate’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100077303239131.
About the Archdiocese of Newark
The Archdiocese of Newark serves 1.3 million Catholics throughout Bergen, Essex, Hudson, and Union counties. The Archdiocese has 212 parishes, 73 Catholic schools, and many missions and ministries. Hundreds of Masses are celebrated in more than a dozen languages each week. Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., the sixth archbishop of Newark, leads the Archdiocese with four auxiliary bishops. Together, they serve the northern New Jersey community through faith, education, and social services. For more information, visit www.rcan.org.