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Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe declared National Shrine on May 31

In recognition of the approval of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe will be formally declared National Shrine on the May 31, 2010 coinciding with the event is the installation of its new Pastor, Rev. Fr. Roderick L. Castro.  The declaration follows the approval given by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines of its elevation to a national shrine.


Manifestation of the Lady

"A great sign appeared in the sky, a Woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head, a crown of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1) Among the many titles attributed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Nuestra SeÑora de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe) is one of the most prominent name.  Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Northwest of Mexico City to Juan Diego, a poor Aztec and asked him have a chapel built in her honor on the site.


Juan Diego reported this message to the Bishop who did not believe his story and instead, asked for proof.  One time, the Lady told Juan Diego to gather roses (even if it was in the dead of winter) in a cloak and bring it to the Bishop.  Juan Diego brought the flowers to the Bishop.  When the Bishop opened the mantle, they saw the image of the Lady which appeared to Juan Diego.


The devotion to our Lady of Guadalupe soon became widespread with miracles and conversions testified to by the huge number of pilgrims worldwide, who visit her Shrine in Mexico.


The Genesis


Prodominantly, the Philippines is familiar with the devotion to our Lady of Guadalupe, Msgr. Salvador Jose, attached priest of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, said, and even emphasized that in the provisions the Papal Bull of 1935, Our Lady of Guadalupe was declared the “Principal Patroness of the Philippine Islands”.


Msgr. Jose recalled the beginnings of the National Shrine. From the 16th Century, the Guadalupe district in Makati City was formed into a barrio after the Patroness of the early Spanish settlers. After World War II, the word “Nuevo” in reference to the present location of the National Shrine was coined. On November 23, 1951, the parish of the Our Lady of Guadalupe was erected by Most . Rev. Gabriel M. Reyes, D.D., who was the Archbishop of Manila that time, and was carved out  from the parish of Sts. Peter and Paul for the 8,000 inhabitants of Guadalupe Nuevo, Guadalupe Viejo, Pinagkaisahan and Fort Bonifacio.


The oldest image of our Lady of Guadalupe was generously donated by the Unsons, Paredes and Garcia’s of Quezon City and of Sampaloc. Most. Rev. Vicente P. Reyes, D.D. Auxilliary Bishop of Manila installed Rev. Fr. Gullermo V. Tello as the first appointed Parish Priest. Between a decade, November 10, 1971 to July 31,  1981 Rev. Fr. Francisco C. San Diego, now the  Bishop of Pasig, began to petition to have  the Parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe declared a Shrine. Time the Guadalupe Catholic School was founded by Msgr. Severino Anatalio who also established Guadalupe Basic Ecclesial Communities and started the 12 noon mass devotion which has become a significant devotion in the Parish. On January 8, 2010, Msgr. Jose as endorsed by Rev. Fr. Edwin Mercado, petitioned CBCP President Bishop Nereo Odchimar, for the shrine’s elevation to National status.


From the Womb to the Tomb


"Even before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; even before you were born I had set you apart” (Jeremiah 1:5) thus said the Lord to the Prophet Jeremiah. In the time where Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in Mexico, the former was dominated by pagan practices, to the point when an individual’s life was offered to idols. This is not new for pagans; even from the time of the patriarchs, sacrificial death already existed (Jeremiah 56:9) The Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe is portrayed as the Protector of Life “from the womb to the tomb” as Msgr. Jose said. In this regard, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe has been the Devotional Center of Pro-life advocates, They take their advocacies under the maternal guidance of the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of “Lady of Guadalupe” with an emphasis to the Unborn, Sick, Disabled, and Others “USADO” as they name it. Pro-life advocates and supporters expressed joy at the erection of Philippines National Shrine in honor of our lady of Guadalupe.  The National Shrine was approved to promote the Value and Sanctity of Life, a great challenge for the Church in the face of secular and political initiatives contrary to the promotion of a culture life such as the RH Bill.


The National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe caters to all who value life the Blessed Mother said in one of her apparitions in Mexico, “ Am I not here, I who am your mother? So, have no fear … no distress”


Indeed, the devotion to the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe, is our safe refuge as well as our protection against anti-life advocacy, as scripture says, “I hear a cry as of a woman in Labor, anguish as of one giving birth the first time. It is the cry of the daughter of Zion, gasping for breath with hands out-stretched: ‘woe is me! I am fainting amidst a band of murderers” (Jeremiah 4:31)


Getting towards another level


To declare a parish church a National Shrine is indeed a great honor, but the process entails  several steps and requirements.  First, it has to be already a Diocesan Shrine (or Archdiocesan Shrine), it is reserved to the Bishop of the diocese to pronounce a parish as a Diocesan or Archdiocesan Shrine.  It is reserve to the Bishop of the diocese to pronounce a parish a Diocesan Shrine.   The Parish Church must be above other churches when it comes to worship, Christian formation and Social Services. When all these demands are met, the Priests together with the Parish Council, Parishioners and frequent church-goers should petition the Bishop to canonically elevate the church into a Diocesan Shrine.


After several years, when devotion has grown deemed and it is possible, the faithful involved in the Shrine may apply for its elevation to National level to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).  Msgr. Jose stated how intense the inquiry would be before declaring a church National Shrine.  He said, as in their case, its application will pass through a lengthy investigation by three Commissions of CBCP; namely the Commission on Canon Law, where the application will pass through a legal consultation, the Commission on Liturgy, which will scrutinize the frequency of the shrine in rendering liturgical services, and lastly, the Commission on Doctrine, to ensure the conformity of the shrine’s devotional practices to the teachings of the Universal Church.


The National Shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe  was declared a  Archdiocesan Shrine by the late Jaime Cardinal Sin on August 15, 2002. On  April 5, 2004, the petition to elevate the shrine into National Level was made to Bishop Fernando Capalla of Davao,  then CBCP President.  Bishop Leonardo Medroso,  head of the Episcopal Commission on Canon Law assigned Msgr. Romulo Vergara to head the investigative committee. On January 23, 2010 the  CBCP approved the petition. The following month, February 5, 2010, the decree of establishment of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe was signed by the CBCP President Bishop Nereo P. Odchimar.


The Pastor


"I dedicated myself into the priestly service of the gospel in order to present the gentiles to God as an acceptable offering” Thus said Apostle Paul in his letter to Roman Christians. Concurrent with the declaration of the said church into National Shrine, will be the installation of its new Rector and Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Roderick Castro. Fr. Erick, as he is called, took up his priestly formation at San Jose Seminary and was ordained by the Cardinal Sin at EDSA Shrine on March 15, 1999. Before his assignment as the Rector of the National Shrine, he served as the Assistant Parish Priest of San Fernando de Dilao Parish in Paco Manila from 1999-2000, and parish priest of  Mary, Mirror of Justice Parish from 2000-2010.  He also has served also as the Youth Minister in Makati District.


Quo Vadis?


Upon the elevation of the Shrine, challenges await the shrine’s administration.  Msgr. Jose said that the primary thing to face is to enable the Shrine to be a church that welcomes and cater to pilgrims in particular with life issues from womb to tomb. “Mary is the Mother of Jesus, of Christians; she is a type and model of the Church” said Msgr. Jose.  “In the womb of the Mother Church, all are taken care of” he added.  Fr. Erick however pointed on the adjustments he is about to take, adjustment from a small parish to not only a large parish but to a National Shrine.   “Attracting more and more pilgrims devotees, not only in the archdiocese from other dioceses is the bigger challenge I would have to take.”


Amidst the complexity administering a shrine, Fr. Erick, by God’s grace, is ready to face what lies ahead in order to promote the devotion to our Lady especially pro-life advocacies.  – By Adrian Tambuyat, O.P.