The month of June is a special month for the Shrine. On this month we celebrate the feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help on the 27th of June. A nine days novena and mass precede the fiesta. Both the 9 days and the feast are well attended. Many complete the 9 days novena and masses out of panata (promise). During the 9 days novena, the shrine comes alive with daily activities. Often there are concert in honor of OMPH, Karakol which is a religious dance procession held at the eve of the feast day, bazaar or flea market which features products from poor mission areas of the Redemptorist missionaries, games and beautiful decorations inside the shrine and in the whole shrine compound. All these exude a fiesta atmosphere during the month of June.
For Redemptorists, the month of June is also a special month for another reason. It marks the arrival of the Redemptorist in the Philippines, 113 years ago.
On June 30, 1906, seven Redemptorists arrived at Opon on the island of Mactan in the Philippines to begin a new mission. They joined Fr. Andrew Boylan, C.Ss.R. who had already taken up residence in Opon earlier in the year. The arrival of these seven Redemptorist confreres marked the beginning of more than 100 years of the Redemptorist mission and presence in the country where without doubt the Congregation was to play a significant role in both the religious and social life of the people.
This commemoration of the beginnings of the Redemptorist in the Philippines is an opportunity to give thanks first of all to the Lord for leading and guiding the Redemptorists especially in the trying times of missionary growth. It is also an opportunity to give thanks to the Filipino people especially the poor and ordinary people in the missions who because of their hospitality, courage and ingenuity in embracing the faith and the good news have made Redemptorists realize that they too were evangelized. This is also an opportunity to give thanks to the pioneering Redemptorists, from Ireland, Australia and New Zealand and our own Filipino confreres, most of them have passed away, for their great dedication and sacrifices in learning the language, understanding the culture and living with the people just for the sake of preaching the good news especially to the poor and most abandoned people of the many remote barrios of the country. It is also an opportunity to give thanks to the many lay partners in the mission areas and in the church who have shared their special gifts and talents in the preaching of the good news and the building of basic Christian communities. Finally, this is also a special opportunity to give thanks to our Mother of Perpetual Help who has guided the Redemptorists in the missions especially in the spreading of her Son’s abundant redemption to all.
113 years ago, the Redemptorists came to the Philippines in response to the need of the church out of the shortage of priests. Our country is not much better off than 113 years ago. The country is still mired in deep poverty and disunity. There is pervasive indifference and hopelessness amongst our people. Sadly, the church has been wanting in giving hope and impetus for change. The same sense of urgency and opportunity beckons upon us all. Thus this commemoration is also a challenge to be open, bold and break new ground to where the Lord is inviting Redemptorist in the Philippines now and in the years ahead.
Our Mother of Perpetual Help pray for the Redemptorists that that they may continue to proclaim the fullness of redemption in Jesus your son.