Baclaran devotees discuss papal visit ‘dreams’

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PARAÑAQUE City, August 26, 2014—Less than half a year before the upcoming papal visit, a group of young devotees of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran, Parañaque, discussed recently how they wish to take part in an event last experienced by Filipinos in 1995.

Gilbert Ortiz Parucha, a law student who volunteers as a lay minister at the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (Baclaran Church), shared his excitement to see Pope Francis in person.

He prays that the Holy Father would consider dropping by Baclaran, and celebrate a holy mass there as did his predecessor Pope St. John Paul II, who had been in the shrine twice.

A lot of young Baclaran devotees are preparing spiritually for Pope Francis' visit to the Philippines in January 2015. (Photo: Edwin Dio Despabiladeras)

Parucha said it will be like a “dream come true” to be able to serve in a mass presided over by the Vicar of Christ himself.

John Keith Daos, a waiter who also gives Holy Communion during his spare time, touched on the papal theme “Mercy and Compassion” and how it unfolds in his life in his role as lay minister.

What could be more honorable, he asked, than to be able to share with fellow sinners the “Body of Christ”?

According to Daos, the Sacrament of the Holy Communion is God’s way of reaching out to man in spite of his unworthiness.

He added that it is in receiving Christ, who is “mercy and compassion made real”, that the faithful becomes renewed.

Redemptorist lay missionary Edwin Dio Despabiladeras promised to regularly recite the “National Prayer for the Papal Visit”.

Despabiladeras explained that since not all Filipinos can afford a ticket to Tacloban, to Manila, or wherever the Holy Father will be going, this prayer allows the faithful to join with the rest of the Catholic world “in spirit”.

Young priest Brian L. Espejo, one of the Redemptorist missionaries who ministers to the Baclaran faithful, looks forward to the scheduled “papal encounter”.

He said he will “move heaven and earth” just to be at the University of Santo Tomás (UST) where Pope Francis is likely to say mass. (Raymond A. Sebastián)

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