Parishes suit up for ‘March of the Saints’

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Last year’s March of the Saints in the Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Grace in Grace Park, Caloocan City inspired both young and old to look like their favourite saint. (Photo by Rommel Lopez)

MANILA, Oct. 29, 2015– In the Church’s liturgical calendar, November 1 is the Solemnity of All Saints. So it’s eve is known as “All Hallow’s Eve” or Halloween. But Western influence took away the “Holy” in Halloween through dress up parties on October 31 where people look like monsters, ghouls and other evil entities. Whether they wilfully know this or not, the practice of dressing up like monsters and demons have pagan origins.

In what is seen as a “counter-cultural revolution” to the Western Halloween observance, Catholic parishes around the country are dressing up their faithful followers in costumes that are of the complete opposite of vampires and zombies.

The “March of the Saints” in at least two Catholic parishes will see the youth of the parishes dress up in like their favourite saints and angels as the right and Christian way to celebrate the eve of the feast of all the saints.

“The March of Saints is a reclaiming of the Eve of All Saints day for Christ. It really belongs to Christ because it is the beginning of all Saints’ day, the feast of all who have washed their robes with the Blood of the Lamb,” said Fr. Michell Joe Zerrudo, parish priest of Most Holy Redeemer Parish in Brixton Hills, Araneta, Quezon City.

The idea of holding a March of the Saints came from Fr. Zerrudo who is also chaplain of the Warriors of the Holy Souls, who helped him organize the very first “March” in his former parish at Holy Family in Roxas District, Quezon City. Other parishes and even the entire Archdiocese of Cotabato followed suit.

“It really belongs to Christ because all times and seasons belong to him, as we say in the preparation of the paschal candle. Nothing belongs to the devil because he lost his place in heaven when he rebelled against God.,” Fr. Zerrudo emphasized that the march is in honor of all saints on the eve of their great feast. He said the procession and march is a way to “portray our Christian journey on earth which is nothing but a march from glory to glory.”

Most Holy Redeemer Parish Youth Ministry Coordinator Jason Flores is fully supportive of the march as he sees this as a way “to counter the prevailing custom of having kids dress up as vampires and ghouls on Halloween.”

Flores, who is among those leading the staging of the March, said that parishes and Catholic organizations must raise the awareness of today’s youth to patronize the saints instead of looking like “monsters, demons, witches, etc…”

“This is our first time to organize this event in our parish. We are very lucky because our parish priest is very supportive and hands-on in this coming event,” he said.

MHRP’s procession will be held on October 31, All Hallow’s Eve. Most Rev. Honesto Ongtioco, DD, STL, Bishop of Cubao will bless the children after the procession.

The Diocesan Shrine and Parish of Our Lady of Grace (SOLGP) in Grace Park, Caloocan City will also hold its second annual “March of the Saints”. The event is co-organized and sponsored by the Knights of Columbus – Our Lady Grace Council 5617 and the SOLGP Youth Ministry. Knights of Columbus Grand Knight Rico Santero said the March will be annual event after last year’s parade got a lot of good reviews and support from parishioners.

“It is the best way to teach our children that dressing up like evil creatures is not fun and not Christian. As Knights of Columbus, it is our duty to educate and strengthen the faith of our youth. And this is the least that we could do,” he said.

Santero’s own children joined last year’s parade; his daughter as the Our Lady of Guadalupe and his son as “jolly old” St. Nicholas of Myra, the inspiration for Santa Claus.

Fr. Zerrudo, who is also the exorcist and head of the Catechetical Ministry of the Diocese of Cubao, emphasized that Christians should imitate the saints and dressing up children like monsters does not help at all. “It is about time that we train our children to see themselves as saints journeying to heaven. The Church is the Communion of Saints,” he said.

Other parishes that will hold their own march are the Diocesan Shrine of Sto. Nino and the Sto. Domingo Parish Church in Quezon City, the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians in Better Living Paranaque, San Jose Parish in Ampid, San Mateo and Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Cainta, Rizal. (Rommel Lopez/CBCPNews)

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