(Lipa City) – Originally starting September 9 to 11 as Triduum (3 days preparation) for the feast of Mary Mediatrix of All Grace, on Sept. 12 at the now-famous Carmel Monastery Church, it was extended to five days as September 8 was added to celebrate the Vigin’s birthday with a colorful regatta around scenic Taal Lake with a volcano as its fulcrum. That was two years ago, this year being regatta’s third.
But the whole Marian Days is now in its eleven years, with another day added – September 7. This year, September falls on a Sunday. As early as 5am, two groups will be motorcading to Monte Maria, a mountain pilgrimage site on top of Brgy. Pagkilatan, Batangas City, overlooking South China Sea beyond the Verde Island. One group will take off from the Church of Mary Mediatrix of all Grace in Brgy. Antipolo del Norte in Lipa City, passing through three town before reaching Batangas City from the east. Another group, bearing the more than 400 year-old-image of Our Lady of Caysasay, leaves its shrine at Labac, Taal and will travel westward towards Batangas City.
Archbishop Ramon Arguelles will lead the Mass at Monte Maria at 9 am and after a short respite, the whole throng will have a motorcade going to the chapel of Mary at Mountain of Salvation in Cajil, Calaca, west of Batangas City. Once there, the Archbishop will again preside over the Eucharist. After that, they’ll climb upwards towards Laurel, Batangas passing through the plush subdivisions overlooking Taal Lake. At Laurel, the two images of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Meiatrix of All Grace and Caysasay)will be honored by two ladies reciting “luwa” (poem of praise). According to Fr. Edgar Villostas, parish priest of Laurel, the wives of the mayor and his vice-mayor will be the ones reciting the “luwa”, before the motorcade proceeds to Talisay for the regatta the following day, Sept. 8.
Fr. Jing Buensalida, parish priest of Talisay, said that a procession awaits the two images, with a third — that of Our Lady of Fatima, on its visit to the parish for the month of September — joining them. After the procession around the town, he would preside over a thanksgiving Mass.
As early as 5 am, those joining the regatta, will congregate at the Talisay Wharf, where Archbishop Arguelles would preside over the blessing of the participating boats. Through the Archdiocesan Radio Stations — DWAL-FM 95.9 Radyo Totoo and DWAM-FM Spirit 99.1 — participants coming from the 11 coastal towns of Taal Lake will be given the signal to proceed at a certain point near Taal Volcano ready to sail counter-clockwise upon the signal again of the anchor from the radio station. Prayers and songs will accompany the regatta participants coming from Talisay Church beamed over the radio stations. Each of the bancas is equipped with powerful radio sets; each of the bancas will have a PNP or Coast Guard as their leader. Safety and security are handled by the joint PNP-Coast Guard Provincial Commands.
After the Mass, where Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos who begged to skip joining the regatta due to her recent bout of illness but promised to be present at the Mass, is expected to lead the various local government officials of the province, together with the faithful of the Archdiocese and guests in attending the concelebrated Mass in honor of the Virgin, celebrating her birthday that day, Sept. 8.
After lunch, the images of Caysasay and Mediatrix will hie off to another pilgrim site, this time at Sto. Padre Pio at San Pedro, Sto. Tomas, Batangas. According to Fr. Joselin Gonda, an elaborate welcome rites will await Mother Mary, where she would stay till the next day.
Sept. 9 is the official start of the triduum. Over at Dolor’s Pavillon at Antipolo del Norte, Lipa City, the three-day Priests’ Marian Conference will commence. Over 89 priests from outside the Archdiocese of Lipa will join the local clergy to listen to Fr. Bouqet, president of Pro-Life International. He will give a conference and lead the priests in prayer. These priests will thn motor to Padre Pio Parish for the afternoon’s activities of the triduum — consisting of another conference by Fr. Bouqet (for the general public) and the celebration of the Eucharist, presided over by the Archbishop.
The pattern will be repeated for September 10 and the following day — a morning conference for priests at Dolor’s Pavillon and the general public at another site — this time at San Jose, Batangas. The archdiocesan shrine of St. Joseph is administered by the Oblates of St. Joseph, who are celebrating their centennial of their missionary presence in the Philippines. San Jose is the first foundation of the congregation in the country. They came at the behest of the first bishop of Lipa, Bishop Guisseppe Petrelli, an Italian.
In the morning of Sept. 11, the pilgrims will go to the Cathedral of St. Sebastian at Lipa City. After the conference in the afternoon and the Eucharist following it, an overnight vigil to be highlighted by a conference on Exorcism by Fr. Jose Syquia, noted minister of exorcism of the Archidiocese of Manila.
By 4am of September 12, after the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, a dawn Rosary procession will begin leaving the Cathedral proceeding to the Parish Church of Mary Mediatrix of All Grace in Antipolo del Norte, some three kilometers away forom the Cathedral. Thousands of pilgrims, including those coming from other countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and the USA, are expected to join and attend the whole day of prayer and reflection during this Marian Pilgrimage to Lipa, intended for Peace and Reconciliation in the World and the Sanctification of the Clergy.
After lunch, the pilgrimage will go to Carmel grounds. After Fr. Bouqet’s last conference intended for the general public, the thanksgiving Mass to be presided over by His Eminence, Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal and joined by arch/bishops of the country will conclude the 6-day Marian Days of Prayer. After the post-communion prayer, acts of consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary will be recited on behalf of thee nation and the province.