Redemptorist, Baclaran, Philippines
The shrine is not just about novena and masses. The shrine responds not just to the spiritual needs but also to the various material and physical needs of the devotees. especially the poor and marginalized. Throughout the years the shrine has evolved various social services and programs which respond to the diverse material and human needs of church goers and church volunteers. We believe that the social services to the poor and the most abandoned is an essential expression of the shrine's mission. The devotees themselves support the services generously as they become more aware about the social dimension of their devotion and the sacraments.
Liturgical and sacramental services like masses, novenas, confessions and blessings continue to be the main services of our shrines. Novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help on Wednesdays is still the main attraction of the people to the shrine, even eclipsing Sunday Masses.
Another essential program of shrine ministry is evangelization both for church volunteers and church goers. The ministry of evangelization is primarily exercised through prophetic preaching, connecting the Word of God to the daily issues, concerns and aspirations especially of the ordinary people. Evangelization in is also done through retreats, seminars, short catechesis, instructions before the mass, etc. We believe that an organized and robust evangelization will lead to the active participation of church group members and church goers in the mission of the shrine.
The original purpose of the Redemptorist in settling down in Baclaran is to do mission. This changed however, as history unfolded through the grace of God when the devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help became the primary attraction of the shrine. But the Redemptorist never abandoned their original charism. Thus, throughout these years the shrine have been going around the parishes of the local Diocese doing parish missions, assisting them in Christian community building in line with the thrust of the Philippine Church and our local church.
Today in the shrine, the proclamation of the Word from the pulpit is complemented by social services which try to address the concrete day to day problems of the people, especially the abandoned poor.
We have many young people involved in our shrine. At the same time the shrine reaches out to the youth especially those at risk around the shrine who are involved in drug addiction, juvenile delinquency, and other difficulties. An ongoing challenge to us is to become more connected to the complex and delicate demands of the youth of today and to open more our community to young people.
The shrine in the past has been known as a strong advocate of justice and peace. The continuing oppressive situation in our country-the widening gap between the rich and the poor, the pervasive poverty of our people, the exploitation and destruction of our environment, the many evils in our society-challenges us to opens our eyes and hearts to the situation of the poor and commit ourselves in journeying with them towards justice and peace and integrity of creation.
The shrine is a popular pilgrimage center. Everyday the shrine welcomes hundreds of people from even the far-flung provinces who visit the shrine to pray and express their devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help. This challenges us to become more ministers of mercy and hospitality by welcoming the pilgrims who feel burdened by the weight of their sins and the consequences of injustice, violence and social marginalization.
One of the popular appeal of the shrine is the availability of the sacrament of reconciliation. Confessions are heard daily in the Shrine, except Sundays, at almost every hour of the day. On Wednesdays, the Confessional boxes are occupied all day long. The celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation makes the Shrine an important centre of spiritual renewal.
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