Dec 262014
While Pope Francis’ upcoming visit promises a momentous start for the year, the rest of 2015 can be extraordinary for Filipinos as well, the head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said Saturday.

In his New Year’s message, CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said, “The Year 2015 can be another regular year in our calendar but it can also be an extraordinary year. If we put much love into each day of this year; if we put much hope into every difficulty we encounter this year; if we share fearlessly with everyone our joyful faith in our loving God; this year may be ordinary but it will be specially memorable one because of the love and faith and hope that we pour into the days of 2015.”

Villegas said 2015 will be remembered in history as the year Pope Francis visited the Philippines for the first time.

The Pope is expected to visit the Philippines from Jan. 15 to 19.

“With the challenge to be apostles of mercy and compassion, the first visit of Pope Francis will surely become momentous days of grace for us Filipinos,” Villegas said.

But Villegas said 2015 is also the Year of Consecrated Life for the Catholic Church worldwide.

It invites Catholics to “thank the Lord for the gift of religious men and women who remind us while on earth of heavenly things,” he said.

“Their lives of chastity, poverty and obedience are signs that God lives among His people,” he said.

On the other hand, he said 2015 is also the Year of the Poor for the Catholic Church in the Philippines.

It is the fourth in a nine-year novena for the Great Jubilee of 2021, the 500th anniversary of the first Mass and first baptism in the Philippines.

“We all look at Jesus and see how poor we all are! In our poverty, the Lord is our treasure,” Villegas said.

“The Year 2015 is a Year of the Lord as every year really belongs to the Lord. Let us make it truly the year of the Lord by living each day praising Him, thanking Him, loving Him and following Him forever,” he added. Joel Locsin/LBG, GMA News

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