JARO, Iloilo, May 27, 2014 — As a literal response to the Year of the Laity challenge “Choose to be Brave!” thousands of Catholic faithful from Iloilo and neighboring provinces braved strong rains and sweltering heat recently to stand in line for an opportunity to venerate the relics of St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II on.
Devotees waited in lines that extended from the San Agustin University chapel to the parking area for an opportunity to venerate the relics of the newly canonized Popes and of Blessed Ivan Merz.
Devotees coming as far as the provinces outside Iloilo testified in interviews over local radio that they could not help but feel the presence and holiness of the new saints when they prayed before their sacred relics.
Campus Ministry Director Mhark Dominic Macaranas related that many devotees came to venerate the relics to give thanks. “Some religious sisters have told me that they came here repeatedly out of gratitude for the many favors that they had received through the intercession the new saints.” Macaranas said.
According to University of San Agustin student council president Jeremiah Verdeleon, the relics’ custodians told him that, of all the places in the Philippines where they have brought the saints’ relics, they have never seen a multitude that was so recollected and prayerful.
The custodians noticed that the people came, not only to look, but also to touch, pause and pray before the saints’ relics. It was also observed that the majority of the pilgrims participated in the holy mass and many of them went to Confession.
During an 11 a.m. mass, also at the said university, Jaro Archbishop Angel N. Lagdame underlined the message that everyone is called to be a canonizable saint. He even jokingly told the people that they ought to lead holy lives because the process of canonization can be very expensive.
The relics of St. John Paul II and of St. John XXIII arrived in Iloilo Airport on May 20 and were brought by motorcade to the University of San Agustin with two brief stopovers at the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral — as an act of homage to Our Lady of Candles whose image Pope John Paul II canonically crowned in his visit here in 1981– and at St. Paul’s University.
The visit of the relics of St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II in Iloilo ended on May 22, after a “despedida” mass celebrated by Fr. Joenick Territorio, Director of the Jaro Archdiocesan Commission on the Laity, with other priest concelebrants. (Fr. Mickey Cardenas)