Right after our three hour visit at the Marian Monks place in Sibonga, we just took a quick lunch and proceeded to Carcar to find the so called pilgrim place.
Upon inquiry from passers by, we were led to the Theotokos shrine, a wide open space, peaceful and serene.
There were few wooden structures inside the vast expanse such as the small retreat place shown above or the open chapel pictured below.
When we first entered the tiny chapel, some workers were cleaning the brass altar with calamansi. That was a new learning for us, a cheaper way to clean brass. Notice the sign right below the image “Do not touch her, she will touch you”.
The place is very ideal for it overlooks the vast ocean in front and the mountains at the back. The photo below shows me and tess beside the two visionaries with the lush greeneries and the blue ocean at our back.
I learned that the founder of this shrine is Fr. John Rona so I looked for him so I can ask the history of the place. The people at the rectory said he was resting for a large group of pilgrims will be coming over. I pleaded to them if it is possible for him to see us for we came all the way from Manila. A few minutes later he came out.
Fr. John was very kind and generous enough to give us his time. He led us to the open chapel so we can sit while he related how touched he was when the Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima came to the Philippines that one day, he and his brother went to Cardinal Vidal to help search for a land where he can propagate the Perpetual Dawn Rosary (PDR). The Cardinal approved his request and suggested two areas – one was expensive and the other lot had lots of squatters in it. He prayed a lot over this and one day he received a call from the Charismatic Center of St Rosario Parish in Cebu.
The person who called told him that in her vision she saw the land that Mama Mary wants for him, and that is at the present Perrelos Hill in Carcar! Several other people dreamt of the same vision and in 1992 the owner of that Perrelos property agreed to sell the lot for an amazing low price of 5 pesos per sq.meter. Our Mother wanted a shrine and wanted it quicly.
When the construction of the site was ongoing, a farmer found something unusual. His plow struck an unusual object right at the back where the statue of Our Lady of Fatima now stands. What it was, was a fifteenth centry antique base for a monstrance on which one side bears the monogram AM, Ave Maria like the AM of the Miraculous Medal and on the opposite side of the base, an ancient form of the cross which used to be imprinted on the big host for consecration.
After more than half an hour of relating the history of the place and other spiritual experiences including all their challenges, I got a call from Ditz, a former officemate who told me about the place. She mentioned that they were just a few mins away from Theotokos so I immediately asked Fr John if he could say mass now for us. Earlier while he was starting to relate his story, I requested him to say mass for us being a first saturday and we will no longer be able to hear mass when we get back. He asked how many we are and I said only three but we can ask the people around who are also visiting to join us.
During the mass, it rained hard. I thought it was blessing from the Lord and Mama Mary. Much later, Dhang said it was a way for the large throngs of pilgrim to be delayed in getting to the chapel till our Mass has ended.
Right after mass, true enough, the sun shown once more. We asked Fr John to bless the religious stuff we bought earlier from the shrine store.
Right below the chapel one can find steps going to the Blessed sacrament.
One could stay in the Eucharistic adoration chapel all day. Besides being so peaceful, one is blessed with a lovely site from nature all around. See the scenery from one window below.
And this is me barefooted beside the blessed sacrament…..
We also waved goodbye to mama mary and the three visionaries praying that one day we can visit again and this time attend the dawn rosary and mass.
On Sept 9, 1992, Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop of Cebu blessed the statue of Our Lady of Fatima under the title of Theotokos and four years later, declared it a Diocesan Shrine. Permission was also granted to celebrate a Dawn Mass every 13th of the month.
As the Cardinal blessed the 20 foot statue of Our Lady, suddenly the ‘dancing sun’ happened for the first time. This was to repeat itself for the next five months.
The sun danced across the sky, changing colors and shapes. To Fr. Tito Giron SVD, the sun took the shape of a monstance.
Every month, Priests come to hear confessions on relays starting at 9pm on the 12th of the month until 4am on the 13th of the month and it continues today. Priests come and stay at their posts of confessions regardless of the weather which many times is wet. And it was the sincere confessions of people, some of who have been away from the Church for 25 years and more, that continues to draw these Priests – wanting to participate in these conversions.