The Vice-Province of Manila Celebrates 75 Years of the Baclaran Shrine dedicated to Our Mother of Perpetual Help

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The Vice Province of Manila organised a 3-day Pilgrimage Congress to commemorate 75 years of the Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help at the Shrine in Baclaran in Manila. There were over 350 participants consisting of Confreres, lay partners for the mission, Redemptorist lay collaborators and associates, as well as the RYVM from each of the Communities of the Manila Vice-Province and the Province of Cebu in the Philippines. There were also delegates, mostly confreres from Malaysia and Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Oceania, Indonesia and Burkina Faso in Africa. The chief guests were the Superior General himself, Fr Rogério Gomes and the Consultor General, Fr Joseph Ivel Mendanha.

The Pilgrimage Congress entitled: 75 Taon Ng Pagpapala at pasasalamat Debo (Mi)syon (1948-2023) Amen: 75 years of Blessing and Thanksgiving Devo-Mission (1948-2023) was spread over 3 days.

The First Day took up the theme of “Amen: The Many Faces of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.” The story of the Devotion to OMPH in the history of the Philippines was presented, followed by a panel of participants who shared personal stories of how Our Mother of Perpetual Help had touched their lives and increased their devotion. After their very moving testimonies, there was group sharing on the same theme. In the afternoon, there was a presentation by Bro. Manuel Sapitula, PhD, presented the history of the novena at Baclaran and its impact on people’s lives. This was followed by group sharing. The day was brought to a close with a reflection by Fr Joseph Ivel Mendanha, Consultor General, who called all the participants to see the reflection of the Icon in oneself and then in each person we encounter. There was a solemn celebration of the Eucharist with the novena presided over by Fr Joseph Ivel Mendanha, who also gave the homily where he spoke of the Dream of the Father to send Jesus through Mary so that all people could experience his love. Mary lived the dream of the Father and inspires us all today to make that dream a reality in our lives.

The Second Day took up the theme of “Blessing, Thanksgiving and Devotional Relationship.” During this day, there were testimonies from Devotees on Blessings and Thanksgivings that they had experienced. A group sharing followed this, and then a Panel sharing and discussion on the different letters of petition and thanksgiving that come to the shrine each Wednesday, numbering around 7000 a year. The team that reads and collates these shared their work and how it impacts their lives. In the afternoon, there was a presentation given by Professor Dr Emmanuel de Guzman, a lay theologian in Religious Studies from Manila who spoke of the different notions of Blessings and Thanksgiving/the Devotional Relationships beyond a Reward System and Transactional operations/ The Moral worldview of the Devotees. Fr Mike Gilbert, former provincial of Oceania, summed up the day with his reflection on the impact of the petitions and thanksgivings on each person’s spiritual life. The Eucharist was presided over by Fr John Hodgson, the provincial of Oceania and Fr Ed Nixon gave the homily where he invited the congregation to take to heart the words of the Lord, “Be Not afraid!” The climax of the day was dinner out in the courtyard of the shrine with a Cultural night of music and song. The RYVM of the Manila Community presented a very touching and moving opera of song and dance on the theme of Blessing and Thanksgiving through the stories of the petitions. This opera was written, composed and assembled by Fr Rico John Bilangel, the Vicar of the Vice Province of Manila and Rector of the Shrine. There was not a single dry eye in the crowd as the young people sang and danced with much devotion. Many lay volunteers who have worked from 10 to 60 years were felicitated at the cultural night. It was an amazing evening of celebration of blessing and thanksgiving.

The Third Day was devoted to the Theme of “Debo (Mi) Syon: Devotion and Mission. Once again, there were testimonies from different lay partners on the impact of the Icon and mission in their lives. There was an opportunity for the participants to meet with the devotees of the shrine as the participants mingled with the people coming to worship and pray at the shrine on Sunday. This led to group sharing on the power of these encounters. The afternoon presentation was made by Fr Victorino Cueto, former Vice Provincial of Manila and chair of the commission, for celebrating 75 years. He spoke of the Spirituality of Devotion and Mission, showing how Devotion on its own is not enough but naturally must lead to a mission. He also demonstrated the many ways in which Devotion leads to various mission involvements. The final reflection was presented by Fr Superior General Rogério Gomes, who thanked the organisers, the participants, and the Vice Province of Manila and called on all truly incarnate devotion through mission in their lives. He commissioned the entire Pilgrimage Congress to the mission and concluded with his blessing. The Eucharist was presided by, and the homily given by the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, Bishop Charles Brown.

Summary of the Congress on YouTube

Photos from the Flickr Album

There were other significant moments during the celebration. A book launch (Coffee Table Book) showcasing the 75 years of the Shrine through amazing pictures followed by a special dinner for benefactors and friends of the shrine and finally, the Feast Day Eucharist presided by Fr Superior General Rogério Gomes followed by the procession with the icon through the streets despite the rain. Fr Rogério reflected on the powerful intercession of Our Blessed Mother in the life of the devotee and how Mary leads us to her Son Jesus. His message brought to a close an amazing celebration of faith and devotion, of participation and mission, which is the grace of blessing and thanksgiving over 75 years in the shrine. Amen: 75 years of Blessing and Thanksgiving at the Baclaran Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Manila in the Philippines.

Joseph Ivel Mendanha, C.Ss.R.
General Consultor

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