On November 21, 2021, the image of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal visited the City of Marikina as the Church celebrated the Solemnity of Christ the King. The Visita Maria was spearheaded by the Cause for Canonization of Blessed Ivan Merz in the Philippines Inc.
The Visita Maria is part of the celebration of the 190th anniversary of the Apparition of Our Lady to St. Catherine Labouré in France in 1830. There, she commanded that a medal be struck according to the vision she showed the young novice of the Daughters of Charity.
The Immaculate Conception medal, the only one designed by the Blessed Mother herself, was known to work wonders during the 1832 cholera epidemic in France. Because of the miracles attributed to the medal, it was later dubbed the “Miraculous Medal” by the French people.
The image, which is in the custody of the Vincentian Fathers, was first brought to the Diocesan Shrine and Parish of Our Lady of the Abandoned, where it was welcomed by Rev. Fr. Lamberto Ramos. Before the Final Blessing, the entire city of Marikina was consecrated to Jesus and Mary. Eucharistic Celebrations followed at Immaculate Conception Parish, Provident Village, and the Blessed Ivan Merz Reliquarium – Roman Catholic Chapel.
Rev. Fr. Rolando Limjoco Jr. CM, Director of the Miraculous Medal Apostolate and Children of Mary Immaculate – Vincentian Marian Youth, presided over the Holy Mass. In his homily at the Reliquarium, Fr. Limjoco spoke about his vocation and how it was not chosen by him; rather, it was paved by the Blessed Mother herself. He was an ABS-CBN employee who was living a good life outside of the cloister when he felt the call to enter Religious life. When he first began his journey, he decided to look for a ‘Marian Congregation,’ as he was known to dedicate himself to Mary. The priest was supposed to be a Carmelite at first.
“I would’ve been a Carmelite, they were a very vocal Marian Order, and I honestly enjoyed the Carmelite habit,” he said. After being sought by one of their missionary priests, he went on to do a search-in at the Vincentians’ seminary.
“I didn’t really enjoy the place because it was old, and the first activity we did was volleyball, a sport I didn’t really associate with. Vincentian charism revolves around being in mission, something I’m not cut out for,” he added.
After months of attending seminars, search-ins in Camerlite and Vincentian formation houses, and fervent prayer, Fr. Limjoco needed to make two choices: whether to leave his life outside the convent or not, and what religious order or congregation to join.
“When I had to make a decision, I went to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal parish, knelt near the altar, wore my medal, and consecrated myself to her. I wanted to be a Carmelite, but the Lord wanted me to join the Congregation of the Mission, widely known as the Vincentians.”
‘Sometimes you’ll have no idea that the plan God has for you, though often contrary to what you believe in, is what will make you happy… and above all, never forget that Mary will always accompany you on your path. Nagpari pa ako kung ako rin lang naman ang masusunod.” he concluded.
During the announcements, Dr. Dave Dela Cruz, OP, President and Vice Postulator of the Cause of Canonization of Blessed Ivan Merz in the Philippines Inc., thanked everyone who helped make the Visita Maria sa Marikina 2021 a success.
Brother Allan de Castro, FMS, also took part in the Eucharistic Celebration and venerated Our Lady’s image. The Brother President was accompanied by Br. Manny Uluan, FMS, and Marcus Sison, OP, a Grade 12 HUMSS student and the Blue & Gold’s Patnugot sa Filipino. “Our Lady truly intercedes for us, she is our namesake and to her, we are devoted. Our identity as Marists is expressed through our Marian Hearts.” Br. Allan reflected.
Following the Holy Mass, the image was carried in procession to the Marian Missionaries of the Holy Cross’ Sancta Crux Theologate house, where the community sang the Salve Regina as a farewell to Our Lady. After the final Salve, the image was returned to her home, the Museo ng Medalya Milagrosa in Ermita, Manila City.
Article by David Lumba
Photo credits: Dan Cruz & Gabriel Victorino, OP