The Philippine delegation presented Antipolo Church, the first international shrine in Southeast Asia, during a conference for rectors and shrine personnel in the Vatican.
Father Reynante Tolentino, the rector of Antipolo Church, shared his testimony about how the 17th-century shrine honoring Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage developed into a source of inspiration and a place of prayer for millions of devotees.
“Our shrine has witnessed countless pilgrims making their way through its gates, seeking the intercession of the Blessed Mother,” he said.
“Devotees from all walks of life, from Overseas Filipino Workers to immigrants, vehicle owners, air travelers, and seafarers, come to the Shrine to implore the Motherly aid of Our Lady for safe travel,” he further said.
Father Tolentino, who also serves as the President of the Association of Catholic Shrines and Pilgrimages (ACSP) in the Philippines, talked about the shrine’s rich pilgrimage history during the 2nd International Conference for Rectors and Pastoral Personnel of Shrines on November 11.
Speaking to more than 600 participants from more than 40 countries, he revealed how numerous pilgrims from different parts of the Philippines and even the entire world frequent Antipolo Church, particularly during their Pilgrimage Season from the first Tuesday of May to the first Tuesday of July.
“It has been a miracle for us that, we are experiencing an increase of 1 to 2 million pilgrims per year, peaking to around 10 million pilgrims as of this year,” the rector said.
“The International Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage becomes a testament to the enduring power of faith, the unbreakable bond between peoples and their spiritual heritage, and the capacity of a sacred space to transcend time and touch the hearts of generations,” he also said.
Moreover, Father Tolentino underlined how the Filipino’s deep love for God and the Blessed Virgin Mary is expressed through shrines, which he considers hallowed grounds “where the boundaries between the earthly and the spiritual are blurred.”
“When we visit the Shrine, we are greeted by the same tenderness and love from the Divine,” he said. “It is as if the Blessed Mother herself reaches out to embrace us, to assure us that we are not alone on our journeys, no matter how challenging they may be.”
The Section for the Fundamental Questions regarding Evangelization in the World of the Dicastery for Evangelization organized this international conference, and Father Tolentino is one of more than 70 delegates from the Philippines who are participating—making them the largest delegation outside of Italy.
Meanwhile, Antipolo Church's solemn declaration is set to be held on January 26, 2024.- Luke Godoy
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