From January 2 to April 30, 2023, the Pilgrim Relics of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face visited the Philippines for the fifth time through the initiative of the St. Therese Relic Visit Committee headed by Rev. Fr. Alain Manalo. We are blessed that the pilgrim relics of Saint Thérèse have visited our country at least every five years now: in 2000, 2008, 2013, 2018, and this year.
Incidentally, the first day (January 2) of the 2023 visit of St. Thérèse in the Philippines coincided with her 150th birth anniversary while April 30, 2023, the last day of her visit is a day after the centennial anniversary of her beatification.
TO SERVE WITH LOVE
Testimony of Joel Ocampo
A famous quote from St Therese is, “When one loves, one does not calculate.”
During the last visit of St Therese in 2018, I was invited to serve as one of the volunteers of the Diocese of Kalookan for the 4th Visit of the Pilgrim Relics of St. Thérèse in the country. I almost did not make it as there was no available transportation. However, the supposedly one and a half hour jeepney travel from Angeles City to San Fernando, and another one-hour bus travel from San Fernando to Kalookan surprisingly became smooth and I reached Kalookan Cathedral in time to participate in the coverage and Holy Mass in honor of Ate Tere. This example is just a glimpse of how Ate Tere taught me to love without doing any calculations - to do things with love, to serve with love, to trust with love, to have faith accompanied by love. In our life, we may encounter various trials and obstacles. However, a person who loves selflessly will do anything without calculations and without counting the cost.
Testimony of Russel Fleur Gallego
Since the official itinerary of the 5th relic visit of St. Therese was announced, the different dioceses that she would visit prepared for her coming. And the diocese that I belonged to was not an exception.
The Diocese of Imus prepared for the visit of “Ate Therese”, as we Filipinos fondly call her, which arrived last April 21 – 23, 2023.
When April 21 came, the whole Diocese of Imus was excited and I wasn’t an exception. As we were waiting for her arrival at the grounds of the diocesan parish in our barangay, Our Lady of the Pillar Seminary, I was one of those who could not be still as I was always looking out for any sign that her relic was already nearby. But alas, though I had been keeping an eye for the gate for her arrival, the convoy used the other gate of the seminary to enter the premises. While I was looking at the procession from the gate to the front where I was staying, I could feel that my eyes were misty. When she was already in front of me, I thought I would cry because seeing her relic seemed like something had touched my heart. And I was thinking that finally, one of the first saints that I am familiar with is in front of me.
My first encounter with St. Therese was when I was in grade 1 when my section was St. Therese of the Child Jesus. My next encounter with her was during my high school play wherein I had worn a habit that is the same color as hers. And the list of my encounters with her and her tiny miracles in my life was never scarce.
After she left the seminary premises, I went home to fetch my mother to go to the Diocesan Shrine and Cathedral Parish of Our Lady of the Pillar because she wasn’t able to join me in the seminary because of the arthritis on her hand that was painful. We got to the Cathedral at 2:00 p.m. for the holy mass led by Bishop Reynaldo G. Evangelista, Bishop of the Diocese of Imus. After the Mass, we lined up to be able to venerate the relic of St. Therese. When it was my turn to venerate her, I whispered to her some of my requests. When it was my mother’s turn, she used the handkerchief to touch the glass of the relic. When we walked back to our seats, she told me that her hand wasn’t painful anymore. When I touched her hand, she no longer felt pain. And that was St. Therese’s little way of helping my mother.
And as what other people had been saying, if St. Therese answers your prayer, a rose will be present. A few kids were passing by and they were holding white roses that were used in the altar near the relic of St. Therese and one kid gave the rose to my mother. When the relic was bound to leave and go to the other parishes in the diocese, I was already crying while waving my goodbye to her because she had already answered one of the prayers that I had whispered to her.
A free concert with the Bukas Palad Ministry, Hangad Music Ministry, Darwin Lomentigar and Toto Sorioso was held at the Shrine of St. Therese on April 29 entitled "Walk with us, dear Therese," that also showcased the launch of “Thérèse”, an album by the Jesuit Music Ministry.
On April 30, the final mass was held at the Shrine of Therese before the relic goes back to Lisieux.
Thank you, St Therese, for visiting us and blessing us once more!
Sr. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face was beatified by Pope Pius IX on April 29, 1923.