PIM Enrollment, Philadelphia, PA
When I arrived in Philadelphia at Saint Peter the Apostle Church/National Shrine of Saint John Neumann for a year of pastoral experience in September 2018, I encountered a vibrant Filipino community with great devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help and Saint John Neumann. The Filipino community faithfully gathers every Wednesday evening for OMPH devotions using the novena prayers of the Baclaran Shrine in the Philippines.
The Filipinos were organized as a community in August 1976 which led the members to be involved in the liturgical life of the shrine and parish. Their devotion attracted more and more Filipinos from other parts of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey to express their faith in God and their loving devotion to His Mother. Soon after, the community started to gather for Wednesday devotions to Our Mother of Perpetual Help. Throughout the years, the community faithfully supported the shrine and parish in many of its ministries and projects.
During the formation phase of Redemptorist students, they are introduced to the importance of lay collaborators in the mission of the congregation and charism to the universal church. These lay faithful, who are partners in the work of the Redemptorists, have been formed in the early years of the Congregation. The lay partners have continually supported the Redemptorists in their mission whether as individuals or organized groups.
For many years, the Filipino community in Philadelphia has been living out the Redemptorists mission in their prayers, outreach, and community life. They emulate Constitution 20 having “strong in faith, rejoicing in hope, burning with charity, on fire with zeal, and humility of heart and persevering in prayer.” The seed of a Partners in Mission Circle has been planted, and now they are ready to sprout as they grow an ever deeper relationship with the Redemptorist Family. We started to introduce the idea of intentionally gathering as a Partners in Mission Circle to some of its members in late 2019. Then in August 2020, we gathered virtually as a circle for the first time during the Covid-19 pandemic. Our initial gatherings were devoted to learning about the Foundation of the Redemptorist Congregation, the life of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori, and Redemptorist Spirituality. Since then, we have been gathering about four times a year for a day of prayer and reflection.
On the 7th of September 2022, the first Partners in Mission in the National Shrine of Saint John Neumann were enrolled as Redemptorist Associates. The celebration was held on the First Wednesday Mass of the Filipino Community and presided by Fr. Francis Gargani, C.Ss.R., and Fr. Richard Bennett, C.Ss.R. After the Partners in Mission stated their intentions, Fr. Francis welcomed them as Redemptorist Associates and Lucy McNamara bestowed unto each of them the Redemptorist cross. The newly enrolled Redemptorist Associates expressed their commitment to continue in their faith journey with the Redemptorist Family.
The first fruits of public celebrations like the enrollment of Redemptorist Associates are for the Holy Spirit to plant the seed in people’s hearts. After the Mass, there were several people who expressed their interest in the Partners in Mission Circle. May the Holy Spirit inspire more men and women, especially those who have been supporting the professed Redemptorists in their ministries for many years, to grow deeper into relationship with the Redemptorist Family.
Eumir Bautista, C.Ss.R.