MANILA, Feb. 8, 2014—The Our Lady of the Pillar Parish in Sta. Cruz Manila is mounting a mini exhibit inside the church in honor of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament (Latin: Societas Sanctissimmi Sacramenti or SSS) founder St. Peter Julien Eymard.
Organizers unveiled the exhibit on February 4 (Tuesday) marking the French saint’s 203rd birth anniversary, and will be open for public viewing until the third Sunday of this month, Sta. Cruz Parish priest and SSS father Hermie Garcia said.
On display are portraits of St. Peter Julian Eymard, and photographs of his birthplace and other places in France that had been part of his sacred ministry.
The centerpiece of the exhibit is a life-size bust of the saint which is a replica of the original in France.
Garcia told CBCP News that the featured items are on loan from the Eymard Formation Center (EFC) in New Manila, Quezon City where their founder’s life and legacy are relived daily.
“Ngayon lang namin [SSS community] ito isinagawa sa labas ng aming Provincialate House,“ the priest noted.
(“It is only this year that we are doing this outside our Provincialate House.”)
SSS vocation director Fr. Ferdinand Tomo added that besides commemorating St. Peter Julian Eymard’s life and legacy, the exhibit also aims to inspire Blessed Sacrament vocation among the laity.
Known as the “Apostle of the Eucharist”, the saint was born Pierre Julien Eymard (Pierre Julien is French for Peter Julian) on February 3, 1811 in Le Mure d’Isère, France near the French Alps.
Peter Julian’s “journey of faith” drew him from being a priest in the Diocese of Grenoble in 1834, to joining the Marists (Oblates of Mary Immaculate) in 1839, to founding the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament in 1856.
Peter Julian also coped with poverty, his father’s initial opposition to his vocation, serious illness, and the Jansenistic overemphasis on sin and the difficulties of getting diocesan, and later papal approval, for his new religious community.
His years as Marist, including service as provincial leader, saw his eucharistic devotion deepening, especially by his preaching of Forty Hours in many parishes.
Fired by the idea of reparation for indifference to the Eucharist, Peter Julian became attracted to a more positive spirituality of Christ-centered love.
Members of the men’s community Peter Julian founded alternated between an active apostolic life and contemplating Jesus in the Eucharist.
With Marguerite Guillot, he founded the women’s Congregation of the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament.
Peter Julian Eymard was beatified in 1925, and canonized in 1962, a day after the Second Vatican Council’s first session.
Tomo explained that the first SSS fathers came to the Philippines in 1957 from the Province of St. Anne in the United States.
The local SSS community has since grown to become its own Province of Our Lady of the Assumption with members in Hawaii, Ireland, and Uganda. (Raymond A. Sebastián)
Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Julian_Eymard, http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Saints/saint.aspx?id=1929