28 August 2021, Cathedral of the Crucified Lord

By: The Rev. Vicky Esguerra
(News Reporter/Recording Secretary)

In an unprecedented historic event, the Diocese of Greater Manila Area (DGMA) celebrated the Diocesan Family Day without families gathered and without fanfare, commemorated the 119th Proclamation Anniversary of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI),  affirmed and lauded the launching of two documents reconciling the IFI and the Roman Catholic Church (RCC), and livestreamed without church attendance due to pandemic protocols. All these happened on August 28, 2021 (Saturday) at the diocesan Cathedral of the Crucified Lord in Brgy. Apolonio Samson, Quezon City. The Rt. Rev. Vicente Salvador R. Ballesteros, diocesan bishop, led the solemn, momentous activity.

Traditionally festive and observed annually on the last Saturday of August, this subdued Family Day two-part activity started with the Holy Eucharist at 8:30 AM and Study Session (Discussion) on the Twin Documents, Unity Statement and Mutual Recognition of Baptism, at 10:00 AM. The signing of these two documents signaled the beginning of ecumenical activities which fostered a spirit of healing and reconciliation between the two Churches.  This document launching was earlier witnessed at the National Cathedral on August 3, 2021, coinciding with the IFI’s 119th Proclamation Anniversary. (See separate article on IFI’s earlier twin celebrations.)  

Bishop Buddy Ballesteros started the day’s event with the Thanksgiving Mass, as the only celebrant and preacher. Noticeable was the absence of the diocesan clergy who participated virtually with the faithful in their home parishes and/or missions. Ms. Rose Madrelejos read the First and Second Readings; while Bishop Buddy was the Gospel reader (John 15:1ff) and preacher, as well.

The Bishop began his homily by briefly tracing the IFI history rooted in the strong participation of DGMA: the first Masses at Pandacan, Paco, Tondo, Maria Clara to the National Cathedral; DGMA’s historical role in the IFI-Philippine Revolution; IFI as founding member-church of NCCP.  He pointed to the IFI-DGMA involvement in the dialogues leading to the signing of the Unity and Baptismal Documents.  He also paid tribute to the people engaged in discussions from the RCC (CBCP) and IFI (OM Rhee Timbang, Bishop Delfin Callao, and the IFI theologians) and DGMA participants, namely, Bishop Warlito Baldomero, the Reverends Dionito Cabillas, Erahvilla Maga-Cabillas, and Nixon Jose.  

Thanking God, he focused on the IFI’s theme, “Celebrating the Gift of Faith, Learning from the Past, Journeying Together,” based on St. Paul’s admonition for “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all” (Ephesians 4:1-6).  He exhorted the blessings of God for one family, good relations, and brotherhood amidst a chaotic world; and called on people to build bridges with prayers, including our mutual relations with the RCC and the UCCP.  He concluded: “May our gathering be always connected and in communion with each other and with God by staying firm in our faith, relationship, and blessed by God.  Pro Deo et Patria!”


Greater Manila's Personal Meeting Room

Diocesan Family Day

Posted by IFI - Diocese of Greater Manila Area on Friday, August 27, 2021


Subsequent to the Holy Mass and the morning break, at 10:45 AM, the Study Session on the Two Documents commenced with the Rev. Fr. Dionito Cabillas as the facilitator cum resource speaker.  At the opening, Bishop Buddy read the article of Arbp. Antonio J. Ledesma SJ (Chair, CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Good Relations) on the Significance of the Joint Statements.  This was followed by a video clip witnessing the representatives from both Churches signing the two Documents. Also included in the video clip was the reading by Arbp. Deogracias S. Iniguez Jr, D.D. (Co-chair, Ecumenical Bishops Forum) of the celebration theme, “Celebrating the Gift of Faith, Learning from the Past, and Journeying Together.

Fr. Cabillas explained that the Unity Statement was the first basis for the Statement on the Mutual Recognition of Baptism.  The background article, written by him, was read by 

Krishtianne Lineses. The discussion ensued with each paragraph verification, highlighting inclusively the following:

  • Differences between Full Communion and Partnership Covenant: The IFI has Full Communion with the Anglican Church and its allied members; and with the Church of Sweden. Both Churches accept the Trinitarian doctrine, Scriptures, and the Sacraments (Eucharist and Baptism); allow concelebrations at the Holy Mass; recognize the organic elements of each Church, but both don’t merge. The IFI and UCCP, in partnership, develop joint programs to help the poor/disenfranchised and advocate for social justice.
  • The IFI-RCC agreement includes the Unity Statement and Mutual Recognition of Baptism; signed by both Churches during ceremonies at the IFI National Cathedral, August 3, 2021. These two documents are applicable to all mainline IFI dioceses located both here and abroad.
  • With respect to non-mainline IFI (factions), they must submit their own separate agreements with the RCC. 
  • The mainline IFI wants to initiate moves toward better relations and/or reconciliation with the six IFI factions, recognized by the SEC.
  • The IFI is independent but ecumenical; a member of the NCCP, WCC, CCA: recognizing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist (BEM documents), Creed, and collegiality of members.
  • The IFI-RCC ecumenical partnership aims to strengthen harmonious relationships:  through joint religious celebrations; advocacy for social justice for the poor, oppressed, and disenfranchised; closer fellowship by strengthening parishes, schools, and seminaries.
  • The RCC’s “Spiritual Ecumenism” includes:  Dialogue of Life – for human rights and indigenous peoples; Dialogue in Theology – for seminaries and theologians; Dialogue of Faith – for inter-faith (non-Christians).
  • During the Launching of the Twin Documents at the National Cathedral, symbolic gifts were exchanged between the IFI, the image of the Birhen Balintawak; and the RCC, the image of the Blessed Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. Some commented that the Birhen Balintawak is the Virgin Mary of the Revolution, and the Antipolo Shrine image is the Virgin Mary of Peace.

The next video clip presented focused on the signing of the document on Mutual Recognition of Baptism.  The Pilipino (Tagalog) translation by the Rt. Rev. Joselito Tablante Cruz (chair, Supreme Council of Bishops of IFI) was read by the Rev. Fr. Severino Ismael.  Highlights of the discussion were as follows:

  • The mutual recognition on validity of the Rites of Baptism.
  • Baptism using the Trinitarian Formula as valid and should not be repeated.
  • Both Churches to maintain baptismal records and to issue baptismal certificates.
  • According to Fr. Dionie -- RCC maintains 3 Books of Marriage Registry: Book I – For both RCC members only; Book II – For Mixed Partners (RCC, IFI, and Protestants); and Book III – Conditional (RCC and conditional partners).  The RCC issues Certificates of Baptism and Certificates of Freedom to Marry (signed/issued by the Diocesan Bishop). 
  • IFI Canons recognize three types of baptisms:  Regular baptism, emergency baptism (in case of pre-deaths), and conditional baptism (unsure if baptized by parents who passed away). 
  • Propagation of information on the IFI-RCC Ecumenical Twin Documents:  Poster or tarpaulin to parishes; information to parents with children in RCC schools; information to clergy in nearby RCC neighbor-parishes.

At 12:55 PM the Study Session ended, and the Rev. Erahvilla Maga-Cabillas said the closing prayer.  Bishop Buddy Ballesteros gave the benediction to formally close this Family Day activity.



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