He was the pope closest to the heart of many Filipinos.  He was the pope that beatified the most number of “blesseds” and the most traveled one at that. But now that he himself has been named as the New Blessed, Pope John Paul II continues to echo his call to holiness to each of the faithful.

On October 29, 2011, exactly one week after his appointed feast day, the Diocese of Cubao headed by the Most Reverend Bishop Honesto Ongtioco, DD., and the Araneta Center will stage the first ever musical concert and liturgical celebration in honor of Blessed John Paul II at the SMART Araneta Coliseum. Entitled BLESSED: A CALL TO HOLINESS, the entire afternoon will be filled with thanksgiving, inspiring messages and musical numbers from the people who knew the beloved pontiff. Among the speakers are Rev. Fr. Francis Gustilo, SDB who is currently the only Asian member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission and the Spiritual Director of the Couples for Christ, Ambassador Henrietta de Villa, former Ambassador to the Holy See, and Jo Grafil, former Executive Director of the World Youth Day. Their uplifting messages and testimonials will be interspersed by stirring musical performances by the Las Pinas Boys Choir, Hail Mary the Queen Children’s Choir, Holy Family Parish Youth Group of the Diocese of Pasig, the IL VOCE from the Ateneo High School and special surprise performers. The occasion will also mark the first time a theme song for Blessed John Paul II composed by Ryan Cayabyab with lyrics provided by Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ will be performed.

Staging BLESSED: A CALL TO HOLINESS at the SMART Araneta Coliseum takes on special meaning because Pope John Paul II himself, during his visit at the coliseum on February 18, 1981, announced that “this place will be called the colosseo of papal audiences”. During that visit, the late pontiff addressed professionals, the youth and catechists and enjoined them to respond to the call to holiness in the practice of their profession and vocation.  More than thirty years after, that call takes added significance and urgency as the local Church faces its many present-day challenges. The celebration also seeks to recall the many ways that Blessed John Paul II has profoundly influenced the faith of the Filipinos and how they can radiate that unique brand of holiness that was manifested in his life.

From October 9 to 29, a relic and photo exhibit focusing on the life and works of Blessed John Paul II will be displayed at the Gateway Mall Activity Area.

Admission to BLESSED: A CALL TO HOLINESS is free. Tickets will be distributed to local parishes starting October 9. For inquiries, please call your parish or the Diocese of Cubao at 723-5114 or 721-6225.

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