Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila will wash the feet of migrants and refugees during this week’s Holy Thursday evening liturgy that commemorates Christ’s washing of the feet of His disciples.
Cardinal Tagle, who is also President of Caritas Internationalis, the Church’s worldwide humanitarian confederation, recently released an Easter message urging men and women of goodwill worldwide to join the Caritas “Share the Journey” campaign that aims to reach out to migrants, tackle prejudice by changing perceptions and help people open their hearts and their minds.
The Caritas “Share the Journey” campaign was launched in September 2017 with the backing of Pope Francis.
Migrants, refugees, priest
Among those whose feet the cardinal will be washing at Manila Cathedral are the parents of Joanna Demafelis, the overseas Filipino worker found dead in a freezer in Kuwait.
There is a foreign Catholic couple who sought refuge in the Philippines because of religious persecution in their homeland.
There are also two indigenous environmental refugees, who fled their homelands because of massive militarization and destruction by logging and mining companies.
There will also be Father Teresito “Chito” Soganob, the priest held captive by the Maute terrorist group for almost four months in Marawi City in the south. The priest’s inclusion in the Holy Thursday rite is also significant as the Filipino Church is marking the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons.
The Holy Week that begins with Palm Sunday commemorates the last days of Christ’s life, and is the most solemn period in the Christian calendar. With Holy Thursday begins what is called the Easter Triduum, the three days that climaxes into Christianity’s greatest feast, Easter, or the Resurrection of Jesus from death.
There are two main liturgical events on Holy Thursday: the Chrism Mass, which is celebrated by the bishop together with the priests of his diocese, commemorating the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the priesthood by Jesus at the Last Supper. During the Mass, the Chrism or the holy oils used in the administration of various sacraments in the coming year are blessed.
The Mass of the Lord’s Supper, celebrated on Thursday afternoon or evening, commemorates Jesus washing the feet of his disciples in a gesture of loving service.
Philippine Church open to suffering brethren
“This is a new mission for the Philippine Church - opening our arms to our Christian brethren who suffer persecution in their country,” the cardinal said.
The migrants’ ministry of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in September 2017 reported that there are about 30 refugees, mostly from Pakistan, who are being cared for by the local Church.
There are also about 600 refugees and asylum seekers in the country and majority of them are from Iran, Syria, Pakistan and Somalia.
In the footsteps of Pope Francis
Meanwhile, Pope Francis will celebrate Holy Thursday’s evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper in Rome’s “Regina Coeli” prison, where he will wash the feet of 12 inmates.
Last year, Cardinal Tagle washed the feet of drug addicts, drug surrenderers, policemen, government officials, volunteers and relatives of victims of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. (SOURCE: CBCPNEWS)