The year 2015 is significant for the Salesian Family since it marks St. John Bosco’s 200th year of birth.
As a fitting gift for Don Bosco, the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians in Parañaque City, Philippines is at the forefront in propagating the devotion to the Marian title Don Bosco asked his children to invoke not just to see what miracles are, but also and more importantly, to express filial devotion to the Lady whom he considered teacher, guide and mother.
This is especially true this year when we also celebrate the 200th year since the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, which is observed annually every May 24 was instituted by Pope Pius VII.
Today being the 24th of the month, the Shrine held the commemoration Mass in honor of Mary Help of Christians (MHC) where it welcomed increasing number of MHC devotees. Toward the end of the Mass, Fr. Nesty Impelido, SDB, the main celebrant, together with Salesian priests from the nearby Seminaryo ng Don Bosco and Don Bosco Center of Studies prayed to invoke her blessing.
Under his new rectorship of the MHC National Shrine, Fr. Remo Bati, SDB has introduced new practices which have been significant in the rapid growth of the devotees.
For one, just before the Mass, they burn petition letters written and dropped in the box located at the Pilgrim Center. This is symbolic to invoke the prayer of MHC to intercede us to her Son.
There is also a short procession of the image of MHC while the rosary is simultaneously recited. At its conclusion, devotees offer flowers to MHC. This also signals the beginning of the Mass.
At 7 AM, a healing Mass or healing prayer is held for the faithful. Fr. Remo has acknowledged two miracles he attributes to the intercession of MHC: One involved a man who experienced a stone being released from him while he was urinating; another involved someone who came to the Shrine using crutches since he had problems with gout, but immediately walked comfortably right after the healing Mass.
This evening, a Francsican sister, Sr. Mary Edna, shared her experience how MHC has been instrumental in her healing and in using her to promote the devotion to the Blessed Mother.
Fr. Remo also mentioned that the preparation for the annual feast of MHC on May 24 is on its full swing.
Among other things, he looks forward to publishing a coffee-table book in honor of MHC this year. This will include some 32 parishes and chapels which are named after MHC.
Last February 24, Fr. Anthony Paul Bicomong, SDB, FIN Provincial blessed the life-sized statue of MHC which has been an instant hit among the pilgrims, especially among the young people, since they get to post their photo with the Blessed Mother in their social media accounts.