Filipino priests from throughout U.S. to gather at Newark Cathedral for historic Mass

Vatican’s U.N. Representative to Preside Over October 26 Liturgy

An image of women wearing traditional Filipino clothing in a church
Filipino Catholics participated in a cultural procession during a Mass celebrating the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines at Newark’s Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart on May 1, 2022. (Photo by Archdiocese of Newark/Julio Eduardo Herrera)

For the first time in history, roughly 370 Filipino Catholic priests from throughout the U.S. will converge on Newark’s Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart for a cultural celebration and Mass led by Archbishop Gabriele Caccia — the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations — on Thursday, October 26. Lay faithful are welcome, though Filipino attire is required.

The festivities, which come as part of the National Association of Filipino Priests (NAFP-USA)’s Fourth Assembly, will start at 1:20 p.m. with a procession of Filipino Catholics carrying items representing the Philippines’ religious traditions like Simbang Gabi and Sinulog. Then, at 3:30 p.m., Archbishop Caccia will preside over a Mass dedicated to the theme “Cultural Integration Towards a Synodal Church.” Afterward, the Filipino priests and faithful will gather for a formal gala in the Hilton Meadowlands at 6:30 p.m.

“The Filipino community is very excited about this Mass because our faith is our oxygen,” said Father JM Manolo A. Punzalan, program director for the NAFP-USA’s Fourth Assembly and director of the Archdiocese of Newark’s Filipino Apostolate. “Our lives revolve around our religious practice, and our religion is a refuge for us when life gets hard. So, it will be nice to celebrate our devotion. And since many of us are immigrants, this is a chance to catch up with priests we knew back in the Philippines.”

The Cathedral Basilica’s event is one of several that will occur during the NAFP-USA’s Fourth Assembly, which runs from October 24-27 (the last week of Filipino American History Month). Other noteworthy happenings include an October 25 Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Edmund Whalen of the Archdiocese of New York. Auxiliary Bishop Michael A. Saporito from the Archdiocese of Newark will also deliver a keynote address about the topic “Priesthood in a Synodal Church” on October 26 at the Hilton Meadowlands.

Finally, the assembly will close on October 27 with a Mass led by Bishop Oscar Solis of the Diocese of Salt Lake City. Bishop Solis, a native of the Philippines, will discuss the importance of journeying together as Filipino priests in his homily.

“We all come from different provinces in the Philippines, so this assembly is a way for us to get to know each other, forge real friendships, and build camaraderie,” said Father Punzalan, who added that approximately 99% of the participating Filipino priests are immigrants. “We’ll share experiences in our ministry and discuss how we can assimilate into the American Church. It’s all about walking together as Filipino priests.”

New Jersey is home to 143,845 Filipinos — according to 2018 U.S. Census Bureau data — with a 2023 Pew Research Center survey finding that most Filipino Americans (54%) identify as Catholic. To engage them, the archdiocesan Filipino Apostolate offers spiritual programs, enjoyable gatherings, and social justice initiatives. Most recently, the apostolate celebrated the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines by hosting a yearlong pilgrimage in which participants followed a replica of the nation’s famed Jubilee Cross to parishes with high Filipino populations throughout the Archdiocese. It all culminated in a celebratory Mass at the Cathedral Basilica that was attended by hundreds of Filipino Catholics.

For more information on the NAFP-USA’s Fourth Assembly, visit To learn more about the Archdiocese of Newark’s Filipino Apostolate, check out its Facebook page at