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About this commemoration
Gregorio Agilpay was the principal founder and first Supreme Bishop of the Philippine Independent Church.
Agilpay was born in 1860 and orphaned at an early age. As a boy he worked in the tobacco fields during the Spanish occupation of his homeland and for the rest of his life bore hard feelings toward the Spanish colonialists. He took a degree in law before embarking on theological studies in preparation for the priesthood. He was ordained in 1890, but seems to have been something of a free spirit from the beginning, illustrated by his joining the Freemasons, an affiliation that was forbidden to Catholic priests.
In 1898, the Philippine Revolution began to bring an end to Spanish colonization. Because church and state were deeply intertwined, any revolutionary activity in the state was destined to have impact as well on the church. Matters were compounded by the fact that the Spanish hierarchy did not allow native Filipinos to rise through the ranks of their own church. Agilpay quickly took the side of the Filipino nationalists and recognized that national independence would also mean independence from the Roman Catholic Church because it was strongly allied with Spanish interests. Agilpay called upon his fellow Catholic priests to occupy the parishes and support the revolution. Many followed his lead.
Agilpay was at first threatened with excommunication and later he was tempted with a deal that would have made him a Roman Catholic bishop with enormous resources at his personal disposal. Agilpay refused the deal and with his Filipino supporters formed a new national church. Subsequently, Agilpay and the whole of the Philippine Independent Church would be excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.
In 1960, the Philippine Independent Church entered into full communion with the Episcopal Church and through that affiliation is recognized as being in full communion with the churches of the Anglican Communion.
Eternal God, who didst call Gregorio Aglipay to witness to thy truth in the renewal of thy Church in the Philippines: Help us, like him, to be guided by thy Holy Spirit, that people everywhere may hear the saving words of our Savior, so that all may believe and find eternal life; through the same Jesus Christ who, with thee and the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Eternal God, you called Gregorio Aglipay to witness to your truth in the renewal of your Church in the Philippines: Help us, like him, to be guided by your Holy Spirit, that people everywhere may hear the saving words of our Savior, so that all may believe and find eternal life; through the same Jesus Christ who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Chronicles 28:19–29:2
1 Peter 4:7–11
Preface for the Dedication of a Church
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