(Manila, Philippines) Nearly 100 young people of Redemptorist Youth Ministry (RYM) Baclaran came together to go on a pilgrimage combined with a retreat to prepare themselves for the Advent season on Monday, November 27th, 2023. The youth ministry of the Redemptorists in Baclaran Community organized an annual activity with the theme: “Witnessing God’s Love in the Manger.” The youth travelled to 4 locations: The Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag, St Jose Maria Escriva Parish, La Sagrada Familia Parish, and the Monasterio de Tarlac Monastery.
The pilgrimage group departed from the Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran and after more than 3 hours of travel, arrived at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag. This is a shrine cared for by Dominican friars. In the auditorium, the youth were guided to share in small groups on the topics: How do you celebrate Christmas and What is your most memorable Christmas?
After sharing time, the RYM members were guided on a tour of the exhibit halls showing the history of the Minor Basilica and immersed themselves among the pilgrims to get a sense of the deep affection the faithful have for Our Lady of Manaoag. It is known that every Monday, many devotees of Our Lady of the Rosary come here on pilgrimage to pray.
The next two stops for the RYM Baclaran were St Jose Maria Escriva Shrine and La Sagrada Familia Parish. Two short recollection meditation topics were chosen to help the youth look back on their personal journeys and discover the language of love they cherish. A common sharing among many was the importance of taking time for each other. To love means to care for, tend to, and spend time together. Many expressed a commitment to spend important, meaningful moments this Christmas with family and loved ones.
Finally, the pilgrimage group arrived at the Monassterio de Tarlac monastery. This is a monastery located high up in the mountains that holds relics believed to be from the cross on which Jesus was crucified.
Father Edward Allan celebrated a thanksgiving mass with the youth group for the grace-filled journey over the past year and told the youth to continue fostering and keeping the faith amidst difficulties and hardships. He encouraged the youth to boldly go forth and testify to God’s love as depicted in the simple manger.
At the conclusion of the retreat pilgrimage, Father Edward guided the youth in a ritual called Baci, a traditional Lao ceremony where small coloured cotton strings are tied around a person’s wrist to bring blessings. In giving these rings symbolizing love, the youth together offered a prayer or blessing for the recipient.
It was a meaningful day of pilgrimage and retreat for the missionary youth of the Congregation of the Divine Savior in Baclaran. It is hoped that the simple sentiments suggested reflections, shared experiences, and joy found in walking together on this synodal path will help the youth prepare their hearts to welcome the meaningful coming of Christ this Christmas.
Duc Trung VU, CSSR.
Photos: RYM Baclaran