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Celebrating Mama Mary, Our Lady of Manaoag

Celebrating Mama Mary, Our Lady of Manaoag

Rev. Bro. Von Erick Maria Sandoval, O.Carm.

On Saturday, 22 October 2022, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Middletown, in collaboration with the Fil-Am Catholic Community of the Hudson Valley celebrated a Votive Mass in honor of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag. For the second straight year, the pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Manaoag visited the National Shrine from 15- 23 October on the occassion of the month of the rosary. Prior to the Mass, was a Marian Day of Recollection consisting of rosary, a Marian talk, Holy Hour with praise and worship music, scapular enrollment and ended with Benediction.

The Mass was celebrated by His Excellency Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations. The Very Rev. Mario Esposito, O.Carm., Prior Provincial of the Carmelites, St. Elias Province, Fr. Justin Maria Cinnante, O.Carm., Chaplain of the Fil-Am Catholic Community of Hudson Valley and Monsignor Giuseppe Quirighetti, Counselor to the United Nations were the primary concelebrants. I was honored to serve as deacon for the Mass. The FACCHV families provided the music for the event. Also present were the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate. There were about 160 faithful and devout Catholics from the Hudson Valley and the five boroughs, Connecticut and Pennsylvania who gathered to pray and ask for Our Lady’s intercession.

Archbishop Caccia began his homily by thanking the priests and religious as well as those present for the Mass. He proceeded to talk about the memorial feast day of Pope St. John Paul II whose pontificate began exactly 44 years ago that day. He presented a holy card with the image of the pontiff and encouraged everyone to keep it nearby especially in their prayer books. The nuncio read a homily from the pontiff’s first Mass in which he emphasized the saint’s famous words, “do not be afraid!”

Archbishop Caccia talked about the importance of not being afraid. He pointed to the pilgrim statue directly opposite the pulpit and said that “Our Lady of Manaoag reminds us of the strong faith of the Filipino people, and we are not afraid to welcome Christ as Mary did, and we look at her because she was not afraid to welcome Christ in her life.” He praised the Blessed Mother’s faith and related it to the faith of the Filipinos worldwide, having served as apostolic nuncio to the Philippines before being sent to the United Nations.

He also talked about the importance of missions and being missionaries. He noted that the following day the Church celebrated World Mission Sunday. He reminded the Filipinos that a year ago, Filipinos worldwide celebrated the 500th Anniversary of the Arrival of Christianity in the Philippines. He reiterated last year’s theme of “gifted to give” and challenged the Filipinos to continue spreading that gift they have received no matter where they are: at work, at school or at home. He alluded again to the image of the holy card of Pope St. John Paul II walking as he did during his pontificate of reaching the nations and compared it to the experiences of Filipinos who walk all over the world to give the faith they have received. He emphasized the importance of each person’s mission to evangelize and be witnesses to Jesus and World Mission Sunday is a reminder of that task. Lastly, he talked about the differences between the “I” attitude and the “You” attitude. He elaborated on this point through the example of the two people in the parable of that Sunday’s gospel. There were two people who went into the temple to pray. The first man considered himself better than his companion. Although the man said “I thank you Lord,” which should be echoed in our hearts, he warned about the “I” attitude that leads to a self-centered attitude. The nuncio stated that Mary is “the perfect model who prays to and praises the Lord through the Magnificat, my soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.” Unlike the person in the gospel who was self-centered and was concerned about “I,” Mary points everything back to God. Mary praised the Lord for what He has done and not for what she did. “It is through Mary who teaches us how to welcome Christ in our life, how to pray and teaches us to be in solidarity with others.”

At the conclusion of his homily, he complemented the Filipinos who are constantly smiling even when things get tough “because you are able to recognize that there is something bigger hidden in darkness.” He encouraged the Filipinos to continue being the light of faith to all whom they encounter because “Jesus is with us. Mama Mary is with us.”

Following communion, Very Rev. Mario Esposito, O.Carm. gave his remarks welcoming and thanking the Archbishop, the Counselor to the UN, the Filipino chaplain and those who gathered for the evening. He expressed his gratitude to the Fil-Am Catholic Community of Hudson Valley for hosting the event, the brothers, the choir, and those who made this event possible. After the Mass, a potluck dinner and party were held at Pilgrim Hall.

We thank the Archbishop for traveling to the “countryside” of the Archdiocese of New York from Manhattan, for those present at the Mass and for those who made the event possible. We look forward to hosting him again as well as the pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Manaoag. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

The full Mass can be accessed on the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s Facebook page or at: https://www.ourladyofmtcarmelshrine.com/live-stream

Photos: SEL Province


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