(Philippines)As a theology student undergoing a year of immersion in the vice-province of Manila, Philippines, I was fortunate to participate in the sacred and joyful atmosphere of the recent grand celebration honoring Our Mother of Perpetual Help at the National Shrine of Baclaran.
Nine days prior, the Redemptorists of Manila organized a solemn novena week to prepare the mind and heart of the community. Every evening at 5:30, there was a pilgrimage Mass known as Novena Mass honoring Our Mother. Each day, a guest priest was invited to share a homily, such as bishops, Papal Nuncio, as well as the superior general and provincial superior.
The province of Manila also organized a three-day conference on the relationship between Devotion and Mission, with the participation of over 250 delegates from different communities and parishes of the Redemptorist Congregation in the Philippines, as well as representatives from other countries such as Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia, the Pacific Islands, India, and notably the superior general and the general consultor for the Asian-Pacific Region. The conference provided a platform for discussions, listening to testimonies of faith from many individuals and experts, allowing the participants to gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between devotion and evangelization.
On Saturday evening, June 24, the vice-province of Manila organized a remarkable cultural night. Through a combination of music, dance, theatre, and captivating Filipino choir performances, the audience was immersed in the vibrant cultural heritage of the Philippines.
An exhibition was set up adjacent to the Shrine, showcasing artifacts and historical images depicting the formation and development of the Baclaran Shrine. Starting from a pilgrimage prayer gathering with only seventy-five participants 75 years ago, the Baclaran Shrine has now become a national shrine, spreading devotion and love for Our Mother of Perpetual Help throughout the country. Every Wednesday is known as Baclaran Day, as on this day, devotees of Our Mother of Perpetual Help from all around gather here to participate in continuous pilgrimages from early morning until night. The Baclaran Church never closes its doors because 24/7, people continuously come and go for the past 75 years.
Within the shrine office area, there is also a unique collection of various images of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in varied materials and sizes. The icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is beautifully portrayed.
On Monday evening, June 26, a book launch was held, introducing a commemorative book on the history, formation, and development of the Baclaran Shrine. This book was meticulously researched and prepared by a diverse team of members from various fields from the Philippines, Japan, Singapore, and Vietnam. The Symphony Orchestra of the National University of the Philippines was invited to contribute to the grandeur of the book launch event.
On Tuesday, June 27, the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) officially recognized the Baclaran Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help as one of the country’s most valuable cultural heritages. Among the attendees of the recognition ceremony were archaeologist Dr. Mary Jane Louise Bolunia and Father Rogerio Gomes, the superior general of the Redemptorist Congregation. Dr. Bolunia expressed her joy in honoring the shrine as “part of the country’s culture after many years of formation and development.” She said, “I hope this event serves as a reminder for us to appreciate the gift of faith we have received and the place where that faith has taken root.”
The lasting impressions of the grand celebration have left a deep imprint in my heart, filled with love and devotion for Our Mother of Perpetual Help that will never fade. This love and devotion are the driving force that leads children to embark on the path of evangelization, just as Mother Mary herself hurriedly sets out on her journey.
I silently thank God and express gratitude to the generations of Redemptorists who courageously embarked on the path of evangelization 75 years ago, which allows us, the succeeding generations, to taste the fruits of their labour.
Duc Trung Vu, CSsR
Photos from the Facebook of Baclaran Church