The Church in the Philippines is celebrating 2017 as the “year of the parish” as part of a novena of years in preparation for the 500th anniversary of the Gospel’s arrival.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas, the president of the bishops’ conference, said that the heart of the observance is heeding the Blessed Mother’s message of prayer and penance at Fatima during the centenary of her apparitions there.

“The message of Fatima still rings clearly and strongly for us,” he wrote in a pastoral exhortation opening the year. “If we dream of Church renewal, let us return to prayer, let us receive her Son in Holy Communion and let us offer reparation for our sin.”

In a January 1 letter, Archbishop Villegas also spoke of the importance of Eucharistic adoration, confession, orthodoxy, and a simple priestly lifestyle.

“It is mystics not the activists who will renew the parish,” he wrote, adding:

We have a long history of Catholic orthodoxy. Stay in line; stay in the communio of faith. Our people want to hear the logic of the Gospel. Our people need to hear Christ again and again. Entertainment is not our business. Partisan politics is not our arena. Our expertise must be the faith of the apostles.

The nation of 102.6 million is 83% Catholic and 5% Muslim.

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