Dedication of the “Parokya ni San Josemaria Escriva”
March 4, 2014
“Parokya ni San Josemaria Escriva” is how Filipinos call the first ever church dedicated to St. Josemaria Escriva in the Philippines and in the whole of Asia, located in Gerona, Tarlac, Philippines. On 14 February 2014, the Parish Church of St Josemaria Escriva had its solemn dedication officiated by His Excellency Most Reverend Florentino Cinense, bishop of Tarlac. The concelebrants were the Vicar of Opus Dei in the Philippines and other bishops and priests. The Mass repertoire was courtesy of “Koro de San Josemaria”, composed mostly of young parishioners of Gerona.
In the façade of the church is a big statue of the guardian angel. A light illuminating it is lit at night, serving as a guide especially for travellers. The profile of St. Josemaria is placed right at the main entrance. The altar-piece consists of the following images: the Holy Family at work; the scenes of the Annunciation and the flight to Egypt; the Nativity scene, flanked by images of angels – on the left, an angel carries a church signifying the people; on the right, an angel holds a papyrus bearing the names of districts in Gerona, Tarlac. On the left side of the tabernacle is a picture of St. Josemaria; on the opposite side is a space reserved for a picture of Bishop Alvaro del Portillo which will be placed there after his beatification.
The building of the church has helped a lot the people of the town in living the practices of piety.
So many people attended the Mass for the church dedication – members of Opus Dei, the parishioners of Gerona, Tarlac, family and friends – that the church was completely full. In the homily, the priest mentioned first and foremost how the Blessed Virgin is Mother of Fair Love, which was the Mass celebrated that day. Also, the priest explained the image in the altar-piece which is of the Holy Family at work, testifying to St. Josemaria’s teaching on the sanctification of work. He told the congregation that the Church of St. Josemaria is not a church of Opus Dei or a church for Opus Dei, but for everyone, primarily, for the residents of Tarlac. In fact, while the church was still being constructed, it was very much remarkable how the residents of Tarlac who were helping out in the construction tried to explain the message of the universal call to sanctity, and to spread devotion to St. Josemaria by giving out prayer cards to all those who came and visited the Church. Many of the people of the town have even memorized the prayer to St. Josemaria in the Tagalog language.
The building of the church has helped a lot the people of the town in living the practices of piety. For example, with the pealing of the bells at midday and at six o’clock in the afternoon, the people are reminded to take a halt from whatever they are doing at the moment to say the Angelus. Since in the church there is a “drive-thru” at the back of the main altar, so that the Blessed Sacrament chapel can be accessed by cars coming from the highway, people can actually pray before the tabernacle without having to get off from it. With this the bishop exhorted everyone to visit the Blessed Sacrament frequently.
Before concluding the Mass, the bishop of Tarlac thanked all the people who generously helped in the construction of the Church of St. Josemaria, including the simple townsfolk who could not afford to give donations in cash but who have contributed so much in actual manual labor.
Now with the presence of the “Parokya ni San Josemaria” in this part of the country, the spread of the teachings of St. Josemaria, and devotion to him as the patron saint of ordinary life, will flourish.
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