SANTO TOMAS, Batangas, Jan. 13, 2017 – The National Shrine of Padre Pio in this town is ready to receive the thousands of delegates expected to come on Jan. 18 for the 4th World Apostolic Congress on Mercy (WACOM 4).
This is the assurance given by shrine rector Fr. Joselin “Jojo” C. Gonda in an interview with CBCPNews amid the shrine staff and parish volunteers’ spiritual and material preparations.
“About 200 priests will be ready at the shrine so that the delegates and pilgrims may avail of the Sacrament of Confession from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 18,” he said.
Confession in different language
The shrine rector added: “Priests will hear confession in different languages since international and local delegates are expected to come.”
The shrine is hosting day 3 of WACOM 4 with the theme “The Church is a Forgiven and Forgiving Community: Celebrating God’s mercy to sinners”, which will highlight the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
“From the time of the Jubilee of Mercy the volume of devotees seeking reconciliation continue to increase so we also station a priest to be available to hear confessions in the St. John Mary Vianney Chapel of Reconciliation each day from the opening time in the morning until closing time in the evening,” Gonda narrated.
According to him, before this sudden demand, priests would come to the shrine to administer the Sacrament of Reconciliation to the devotees and pilgrims before the celebration of the Mass every ‘Padre Pio Day’, on the 23rd day, and every first and third Saturday of the month only.
Divine Mercy Pilgrims Center
“The Shrine’s newly-built Divine Mercy Pilgrims Center is now ready to be the venue of Bishop Teodoro Bacani’s talk at 10.30 a.m. and the concelebrated Mass that will be presided over by Manila Archbishop Emeritus Gaudencio Cardinal B. Rosales and Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles at 3:30 p.m.
WACOM Day 3 will be capped off with a 30-minute stage play on the life of Padre Pio at 5 p.m., said Gonda.
“The whole production was generously offered to the shrine by a foundation set up by Padre Pio devotees and directed by Mr. Nestor Torre,” disclosed the shrine rector.
New bridge, driveway
To facilitate the flow of delegates and pilgrims, a new bridge leading to the shrine was inaugurated and blessed by vicar forane Fr. Ed Pagcaliuangan on Nov. 19.
The bridge is called “Ponte di Maria” (Tulay ni Maria) in honor of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Along with the shrine rector and other guest priests, Pagcaliuangan also blessed a new driveway, named “Daan ng Poong Nazareno”, which leads to the new entrance and exit points from the shrine.
For more inquiries, interested parties may call the shrine at (043) 701-0018 or visit its Facebook page “The National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio de Pietrelcina in Brgy. San Pedro”. (Fr. Mickey Cardenas / CBCP News)