23 May 2015, Parañaque City FIN—The members of the Salesian Family of the Philippine Province of St. John Bosco North (FIN) held a Eucharist honoring the Blessed Mother under her title Mary Help of Christians (MHC) after Pius VII instituted the title 200 years ago.
With no less than His Excellency, Leo Drona, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of San Pablo, as the main presider, he was joined by some 40 concelebrating priests. The Eucharist was held at the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians,
Bishop Drona holds the distinction of being the first Salesian Filipino priest and bishop. Fr. Remo Bati, SDB, director of the Marian Affairs of the Shrine and a classmate of Bishop Drona revealed that the bishop was also the first rector of the Shrine.
Unable to take part in the gathering of Salesian Bishops in Turin, Bishop Drona gladly accepted the invitation to preside the Mass in honor of MHC.
In his homily, he traced the development of the devotion to MHC in the Philippines which took off when Monsignor William Piani, himself a Salesian, was assigned in the country as Papal Nuncio some decades before the Salesians of Don Bosco finally settled down in 1951.
To date, there are at least 32 parishes and quasi-parishes in the Philippine archipelago.
Members of the Salesian Cooperators, Alumni, Caritas Sisters of Jesus, Association of Mary Help of Christians, Volunteers of Don Bosco, Damas Salesianas, and Caballeros came in full force.
After the Holy Mass, everybody was treated with a sumptuous lunch provided by the Shrine.
St. John Bosco propagated the Marian devotion under the title of MHC among his children, the Salesians, and to numerous close sympathizers.
Interestingly, this bicentennial celebration of the institution of the title of MHC coincides with the 200th birth of Don Bosco, her ardent son and foremost disciple. The site where the Shrine is located stands along Don Bosco Street, in a village popularly called “Barangay Don Bosco.”