From October 2016 to the end of July 2017, a pilgrimage organized by Society of Saint Pius X traveled throughout the Philippines. The pilgrimage, called “Mary’s Mission Tour,” was a 1,200 mile walk with the Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima. It was Fatima’s message in action—souls called to conversion and sanctification—through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The pilgrimage went from the Southern tip of the country (Marbel in Mindanao Island) to the top North (La Trinidad in Luzon Island). An eyewitness account of the facets of the pilgrimage follows:
A Spiritual Pilgrimage
It has been 90 days since Mary’s Mission Tour commenced at Marbel, South Cotabato, with the goal of reaching La Trinidad, Benguet by July 31, 2017, when the pilgrimage will be concluded. While we, the faithful here in Butuan City, await Our Lady’s arrival, I kept wondering what kind of reception the people of the city would render to Our Lady. Ever since I was young, I cannot seem to recall any such wondrous event ever gracing the people of Butuan. Perhaps this will be the first.
On Tuesday, January 17, an advance party arrived, led by Fr. Alexander Hora. Of course, it wasn’t to be just any other event to take place in the city. It was Our Lady who was coming to pay all of us a visit. And so, it was more than appropriate that Fr. Hora arrived ahead of all the other pilgrims to prepare the city for the coming of Our Lady. Everyone must know of her arrival so that they can participate and share in her mission.
Fr. Hora spent the next two days until Thursday, January 19 going about preparing the city for Our Lady’s arrival. In those three days, three private business establishments and a well-known radio station were all consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, with the imposition of the Brown Scapular offered to their respective employees and the distribution of both miraculous medals and rosaries. Such great privileges were even extended to the people at the city’s central public market, as well as to the inmates at the city jail. And how they outnumbered those who previously received the imposition of the Brown Scapular! The market people and inmates who received the imposition numbered almost 500.
Further Preparations for Her Arrival
The preparation for the arrival of the Queen of heaven and earth does not stop there. On Monday, January 23 and Tuesday, January 24, Fr. Albert Ghela visited two public primary schools and one public secondary school. At his visits, the students came forward not only to be enrolled in the Brown Scapular, but also in the Militia Immaculata. During those days, 740 students committed themselves to be soldiers of Mary. Oh, what better gift could we have given to Our Lady!
After a week of preparation, Our Lady finally arrived in Butuan City. On Wednesday, January 25, the Solemn Reception of Our Lady took place at the holy hour of 3:00 pm at the rotunda in Bancasi. As Our Lady was making her way, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Band serenaded her with Salve Regina and Dios te Salve. And as she took her place before the many people, the wife of the Barangay Captain adorned her with a beautiful garland. Likewise, 16 little angels sang Marian songs in honor of Our Lady while showering upon her a rain of rose petals.
Following a grand welcome to Our Lady, the military came and escorted their Queen and Mother toward the covered courts where her children awaited her. As Our Lady was set near the altar, people came to place upon her feet flowers of every kind and to offer short prayers.
Moments after the sun had set, preparations were made for the High Mass. The people of Bancasi, led by their Barangay Captain, came to attend Mass; after that, the entire Barangay of Bancasi was consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It was a heartwarming scene to witness. They were about to witness a Mass much different from that which they have been accustomed to. It was the Tridentine Latin Mass—the Mass of all time! Oh, how blessed those people are to have had such opportunity, to have taken it, to have been there! They would have seen Our Lady look at them with tears of joy from Heaven.
On the morning of Thursday, January 26, Our Lady next went to visit the PNP Camp Rafael Rodriguez Region 13 nearby the city proper. Around 700 police officers joined together to give to Our Lady a most grand welcome inside their camp. Some showered her with a rain of rose petals as she passed while some serenaded her. In the afternoon, Our Lady proceeded to visit Butuan City Hall where the city mayor holds office. Here I would like to note that previously the city’s mayorial office was held by a non-Catholic for six years; and so, for Our Lady to have been welcomed inside City Hall’s premises after being left out for years leaves me with great awe.
Now, as all these major events, led by the team headed by Fr. Tim Pfeiffer, have been going on, Fr. Ghela and Fr. Hora also provided some support to the Mission by visiting other places and establishments. On Wednesday, January 25 and Thursday, January 26, Fr. Ghela visited two more public schools, one primary and the other secondary. What was most astonishing about his visits was that in the primary school, almost 900 persons, most of whom were students, came forward to offer themselves to become soldiers of Mary. And the count still continues…
In the morning of the following day, Friday, January 27, Fr. Ghela, together with Fr. Hora, visited another Barangay opposite Bancasi, Barangay Baan, where the Barangay Captain, Honorable Gemma Tabada, together with all her Kagawads, had the entire Barangay of Baan consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In the afternoon, both priests proceeded to visit the next Barangay, Barangay Ampayon.
Consecrating the City
The city’s recently elected mayor, Ronnie Vicente Lagnada, emotionally received Our Lady from Fr. Timothy Pfeiffer and carried her in procession, then placed her on the altar. Mass was celebrated afterward and, interestingly, it was the mayor himself who, on this very busy day for the government employees of city hall, called a halt to everyone’s work so that they were in attendance during Mass. Following the Mass, in the presence of all his staff, Mayor Lagnada had the entire city of Butuan consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Friday, January 27 was the third day of Our Lady’s visit in Butuan. From city hall, she proceeded to the provincial capital where the Provincial Governor of Agusan del Norte holds office. As in Bancasi, Our Lady was escorted by the Philippine National Police (PNP). In the absence of the governor, his proxy, Ma’am Nemia Alegarbez, together with all the provincial capital staff, had the entire province of Agusan del Norte Consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
During Our Lady’s visit here in Butuan City, almost 3,200 persons received the Brown Scapular, around 1,100 Miraculous Medals were given, and lastly, almost 2,900 persons were enrolled to the Militia Immaculata. Now, I suppose I didn’t need to wonder about the kind of reception Our Lady would receive upon her visit to Butuan City. The numbers have a way of telling their own story. But, just as Fr. Pfeiffer mentioned in one of his sermons, it should not be enough that in taking part of Mary’s Mission we were able to enroll thousands of persons in the Militia Immaculata or that we were able to offer the imposition of thousands of Brown Scapulars or distribute thousands of rosaries—the real question is how many of these individuals will actually continue and persevere in what they have received?
Mary’s Mission Trimester Report