How to Pray the Novena at the Shrine

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Novena is the traditional and popular prayer that the thousands of devotees recite and sing together every Wednesday at the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran. Although, the Novena is the main attraction for the thousands of devotees, it is essentially linked to the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and reconciliation. Thus, attending Eucharist and receiving communion and making a good confession is an essential part of praying the novena. Writing letters of petitions and thanksgiving is also an essential part of the novena.

Here are the instructions for praying the novena in the shrine:

  1. Attend the Perpetual Novena devotions to our Mother of Perpetual Help for nine consecutive Wednesdays. Check out the schedule of the Novena and Masses every Wednesday at the shrine @ http://www.baclaranchurch.org/home.html
  2. Bring your novena booklet with you and join in the prayers and hymns.
  3. Before or after the Novena make a good confession.
  4. Write your petition to our Blessed Mother and place it in the box marked, “Petitions.”
  5. Do not leave after the novena. At the conclusion of the Novena there may be Benediction or Holy Mass.  
  6. Attend the Eucharist and receive Holy Communion as often as possible.
  7. When your petition has been answered, write a letter of thanksgiving to our Blessed Mother and place it in the box marked, “Thanksgiving Letters”, so that others also may be inspired to experience God’s perpetual help through the prayers of our Blessed Mother.

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(This article is an excerpt from the book National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help: Tips, Trivia and Tribute by John Maguire, Joey Echano, et. al., soon to be published)

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A Shrine Born Out of a Love Story

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Did you know that when the first Redemptorist missionaries came to Baclaran, Philippines in 1929, they never planned to build a big shrine for Our Mother of Perpetual Help. Little did they imagine that someday, Baclaran would turn into the biggest pilgrim shrine in the world dedicated to Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

If the Redemptorists did not plan it, who planned it? To answer this question, let us take a trip down memory lane.

The first Redemptorist missionaries who came to the Philippines in 1906 began their mission in Opon, near Cebu. From there, they gave missions to several provinces in the Visayas.

From the Visayas, the Redemptorist advanced to Luzon to expand their missionary work. The Manila Archdiocese entrusted to the Redemptorist the care of the parish of Malate in 1913.  The Redemptorist was reluctant all along to live in Malate as they were keener on giving missions to the barrios of the Southern and Northern Luzon region. Fr. Michael Bailey summarized the sentiments of the early Redemptorist about Malate as “good as a parish apostolate but as a mission to Filipinos it was in many ways as ill-fated as its origins were compromising.” Filipino Sociologist Manuel Victor Sapitula explains that the reticence of the pioneer Redemptorists regarding Malate was because they deemed it “too urban.”  Instead of an urban parish, the majority of the pioneer missionaries preferred a mission base far removed from the exigencies of urban life.

To cut the story short, not long after settling in Malate, the Redemptorists negotiated with the Archdiocese for a transfer. The Archbishop offered them a piece of land in the then rural village of Baclaran. The land was a donation by a devotee of our Blessed Virgin Mary. In Baclaran, the Redemptorist have finally found an ideal location for a mission station, one that they have been longing for, ever since they sat foot in Luzon. The Redemptorist immediately began the process of transfer from Malate to Baclaran in 1929.   

In 1929, Baclaran was an unknown small rural fishing village of Manila, Perhaps during that time, people would have asked: Is there something good that can come out of Baclaran? Ironically, Baclaran as a suburb outside of the city center, poor and rural are the reasons why the Redemptorists settled there.

The Redemptorist built a small convent and church in the middle of grassland. The grassland was near the seacoast where the fisher folks used to anchor their small fishing boats. Before World War II, the waters of Manila Bay used to come up to the refectory of the monastery especially on high tide.  After the war, the water used to lap the shore along Roxas Boulevard. Now the sea is about two kilometers from the front of the Church.

From the very beginning, the early Redemptorists conceived of Baclaran as a mission station where they can hold missions to distant barrios. The Redemptorists settled at Baclaran primarily to give mission. There was never a plan to make Baclaran a parish. The small wooden chapel will only cater to the local community around the convent. This chapel fits the ideal preconception of a rural mission church that the pioneer Redemptorists favored. Built with wooden frames and rather small, the shrine and monastery suited the predominantly fishing village landscape that Baclaran exemplified.

The entry in the Chronicles of the Baclaran Community, dated March 21, 1932—the day Fr. Denis Grogan, the man who built Baclaran Monastery and Church left the Philippines—encapsulated the missionary intent of the Redemptorist when they settled in Baclaran:

“The Redemptorists now had a Monastery where they could live as religious and get on with their main work of learning Tagalog to give Missions to the Filipino People wherever they were needed.”

~13A further expression of this missionary aspiration is Grogan’s dedication of the shrine and its attached convent to St. Thérèse of Lisieux, patron saint of mission. This is etched in the foundation stone of the Monastery, which was blessed and laid on Sept 13, 1931:

At the request of Most Rev. Fr. General Murray and with the approval of His Grace, the Monastery and Church are to be dedicated to St Teresa of the Child Jesus, the patroness of the missions. The secondary Patrons shall be the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of Mother of Perpetual Succor, St Joseph, St. Alphonsus, St. Clement and St. Gerard.

After settling down in Baclaran, the Redemptorists did what they knew best—doing missions!  We read in the Chronicles of the Baclaran Community that they were working regularly in Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Pampanga and occasionally in Ilocos, Baguio, and Palawan, as well as in Manila and Rizal.

Deeply occupied by missionary work, the early Redemptorists never thought of transforming the small wooden chapel into the big shrine that it is now. At the very beginning, however, there were already writings on the wall that will foreshadow the transformation of this small wooden church into the biggest shrine in the world dedicated to Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

First of this writings on the wall is the intention of the donor. The donor, a certain pious woman named Anastacia donated the land with the intention that it give honor to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Fr. Sam Boland narrates,

The land was a pious foundation, as the Archbishop of Manila had described it, and quite an interesting one. It had been the property of a good widow whom Father Gallagher, the source of our information, remembers as Anastacia. In her will, she bequeathed the land to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her relations after her death referred the matter to the Holy See for an interpretation; and the decision was that it was to be regarded as a bequest to the Church to be used for religious purposes. Now at last after the elusive talk of the past few years about Baclaran, “the place of the fishtraps,” Anastacia’s gift to the Blessed Virgin, was entrusted to the Australian Redemptorists.

The second writing on the wall is the providential story of how the altar came to be dedicated to Our Mother of Perpetual Help. At the beginning of their ministry in Baclaran, the Redemptorist asked for donations from the people in building and adorning the small wooden chapel. The Ynchausti family came, along with friends and benefactors, with the intention of donating a beautiful high altar to the congregation. They had one condition, however, that the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help ought to occupy the high altar. This would conflict with the intention of the pioneer Redemptorists to have the chapel in honor of St. Thérèse. Who would get the high altar— St. Thérèse or Our Mother of Perpetual Help? Fr. Grogan unfolds to us this drama on an entry dated Feb 1, 1932 in the Chronicles:

“I am preparing the House and Church for the arrival of the Fathers and Brothers from Australia. The new high altar given by Sra. De Ynchausti arrived. It was designed and made by Mr. Maximo Vicente under the guidance of the donor. It became the high altar very providentially. Sta. Teresita being the Patroness should naturally have been there and for the first Mass celebrated in the church she was actually installed but when the donor offered her altar, she expressed the wish that it should be the high altar. I proposed her wish to Father Provincial (Byrne) with a good recommendation and he decided it should be so. The delay in communicating brought us near to the Opening Day and hearing nothing from Australia we gave orders that the plans should be changed and the altar made smaller to suit the aisle, but at that very moment, while the designer was in the house, the mail arrived from Australia and all was changed. Our Lady of Perpetual Succor (Help) was given the High Altar and Sta. Teresita on her right side, with St. Gerard on the left.”  

Later on, the Redemptorists transferred St. Thérèse’s statue to the grounds in front of the convent. As time will tell, this became a more fitting place for St. Thérèse’s statue as the people were able to touch her. This also serves as a reminder that the saint once had a brief reign in the shrine, before it was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. Filipino historian Trazer Dale Mansueto notes that Ynchausti’s choice of Our Mother of Perpetual Help underscores the growing devotion to the Marian title in the Philippines at the time prior to the explosion of the novena.  This further shows that some awareness about Our Mother of Perpetual Help has already reached Baclaran even before the Redemptorist arrived there.

It took sixteen years before anyone in the Redemptorist community thought of having a Novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran. For sixteen years the Redemptorist were busy giving missions from all over the Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon areas. Although in most of these missions, they were introducing the icon and propagating the devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, no one thought, however, of introducing the novena at the small chapel of Baclaran.

When the Redemptorist finally did start the novena after hearing of it’s warm acceptance in Ilo-ilo, Lipa and Cebu, all were taken by surprise by the rapid increase of the crowd flocking to the small wooden chapel for the novena. During the first novena, there were only 70 people present.  The following week the number doubled. Before the year ended, the Redemptorists added more novena sessions since the original chapel was good for only 300 people.

1st_novenaThen, it dawned upon the Redemptorists that this chapel is not just meant to be a mission station. This chapel is meant for something extraordinary which the past writings on the wall have foreshadowed. Something special is about to transform this place because of Mary of Baclaran, Our Mother of Perpetual Help. The small wooden chapel would have to give way to a larger church.

By the end of 1949, there were eight crowded sessions of the novena, and many others were following it from the parking area. By this time, the crowd was estimated between 50,000 and 70,000 people.

The rest is history!

But where did the crowd who attended the novena came from? Why did the attendance to the novena multiplied so fast?

The Filipino people fell in love with Our Mother of Perpetual Help or shall we say Our Mother of Perpetual Help fell in love with the Filipino people even before the explosion of the novena in 1948. As the late Fr. John Maguire said,

[O]ne reason for the rapid spread of the Perpetual Novena, after it began in Baclaran in 1948, was the already existing love of the people for the Mother of Perpetual Help, whom they had come to know and love from the Redemptorist Missions.

It was the love story between the Filipino people and Our Mother of Perpetual Help that catapulted the explosion of the novena to cosmic proportions. It was the love story between the Filipino people and Our Mother of Perpetual Help who planned the biggest shrine of the world dedicated to Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

The Redemptorists helped facilitate this love story to blossom in Baclaran. The Redemptorist missions in the barrios deep into the country introducing Our Mother of Perpetual Help helped prepare the way for the coming of the novena. The Redemptorists were the stewards entrusted with the care of the shrine that is a testament to the love story between the Filipino people and Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

newly constructed church

 

(This article is an excerpt from the book Mary of Baclaran: Our Mother of Perpetual Help and Mission Today by Joey Echano, soon to be published)

Sinirangan Coffee Shop: Brewing Hope, Sowing Dreams

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Sinirangan Coffee Shop is not your ordinary coffee shop. Certainly, it serves wonderful coffee like the ordinary commercial coffee shop such as Starbucks, Gloria Jean’s, and Figaro. Like an ordinary commercial coffee shops, it also aims to earn money and profits. The difference, however, is that all the profit from Sinirangan goes to the poor. All profits from Sinirangan coffee shop do not go to the shrine nor to the Redemptorist community but to the survivors of the super typhoon Yolanda in Eastern Samar.

Sinirangan Coffee Shop is the shrine’s coffee shop located at the ground floor of the Carillon Bell Tower near the shrine’s main gate at Roxas Boulevard. Aside from coffee, the shop also serves a wide range of items including pasta and pastries.  The space inside is cozy and relaxing and provides a passage to the top of the Carillon Tower. The exterior garden is spacious and has plenty of hard wood trees and plants. This provides a relaxing and nature-friendly ambiance, an excellent environment while you are drinking coffee.

Through the concerted efforts of the Redemptorists’ Permanent Commission on Social Mission Apostolate (PCSMA) and Tabang Sinirangan Visayas, a multi-sectoral and inter-regional group whose main organizers include the victims themselves, the idea of building a coffee shop that caters products directly transported from Visayas was born. Amidst the devastation, a new hope was born, thus, the coffee shop was named “Sinirangan” which in Eastern Samar’s Waray language means dawn, a new day.

Sinirangan Coffee Shop is basically a livelihood support program benefitting the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in the Municipalities of Llorente, Gen.MacArthur, Quinapondan and Giporlos, Eastern Samar, Philippines. It involves the whole process of “soil to cup”—from planting and cultivating, to brewing and selling coffee. The soil-to-cup approach is the empowering of the small farmers in the process of production. This means that the farmers will have control from planting to marketing by providing them the necessary tools, conditions and structures.

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Sinirangan coffee plantation is located in the towns of Llorente, Gen.MacArthur, Quinapondan and Giporlos, Eastern Samar, Philippines.  The coffee farmers belong to rural poor families and communities that were affected by the Super typhoon Yolanda. The total number of direct beneficiaries is 3200 households. The total number of indirect beneficiaries such as communities is 19,200 individuals. The types of beneficiaries are household families. The reason for their selection is because they are poor and have no means to take care of themselves.

Another interesting feature of Sinirangan Coffee Shop is that it provides job for graduates of the shrine’s skills and livelihood center. Also, many of the staff of Sinirangan are girls from the women’s center.

By patronizing the coffee shop you can enjoy beautiful coffee while helping the poor beneficiaries.  You may also get the chance to climb the Carillon tower which will give you a magnificent view of the surroundings of the Baclaran National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

Come taste our Sinirangan Coffee and enjoy the beautiful panoramic view of Manila Bay Reclamation Area.

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Top 10 to do list after Attending the Novena and Mass at the Shrine

 

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  1. Light a candle at the candle chapel.
  2. Write a letter of petition or thanksgiving
  3. Buy an icon or a novena booklet of OMPH and let it touch the original icon
  4. Attend the blessing of religious articles at the outside corridor on the top left side of the shrine during Wednesdays and Sundays. Bring your icon, rosaries, novena booklets, crucifix, statue and other religious objects to be blessed. You can also ask blessing for yourself.
  5. Offer masses for your petitions and thanksgiving.  All your intentions are offered in the masses celebrated at the shrine and in many dioceses and parishes all over the Philippines.
  6. Relax and enjoy the fresh air at the shrine surroundings. Sit and admire the trees and plants at the garden. Bring your own food and have a picnic underneath the trees.
  7. Visit and appreciate the wall art on the southern wall of the shrine near the candle chapel. It is the longest wall art in a church composed of murals, mosaic and mixed media art.
  8. Make a wish and drop a coin at our wells and fountains around the shrine. All coins and notes dropped at our fountains and wells goes to the box for the poor which funds many projects benefitting the poor all over the Philippines.
  9. Drink coffee at Sinirangan coffee shop. You can enjoy hot or cold coffee, chocolate and smoothies while at the same time helping the poor farmers of Eastern Samar.
  10. Climb to the top of the Carillon Bell Tower. It is a good exercise and you will be rewarded with a beautiful panoramic view of Baclaran, MOA and the bayside reclamation area. You can even bring your coffee at the top, or better still, ask the Sinirangan staff to bring your order at the top. What else can outshine an experience of drinking coffee while watching the famous sunset of Manila Bay?