QUEZON CITY - It was an early start for me on 19 October 2019, waking at 4 am to leave at 4.30 am with my brother scholastics to go to the Montfort Center of Spirituality where two buses were waiting for us. This was my first time to join a pilgrimage organized by the Montfort Missionaries in close collaboration with the Association of Mary Queen of All Hearts (AMQAH). There was also one bus for the pilgrims from Sta. Teresita at West Rembo, a parish looked after by the SMM. The pilgrims were quite a mixed group of young and old - with students, young professionals, members from other religious congregations, AMQAH members, invited guests, seminarians and priests from the Montfort Missionaries.
This was the 29th Montfortian Pilgrimage with the theme “A Pilgrimage with Mary” wherein we visited five beautiful churches and shrines, old and new in the Diocese of Antipolo in Rizal. The itinerary included visits to the following churches - St. Jerome Parish in Morong; St. Joseph Parish in Baras; San Ildefonso de Toledo in Tanay; the Diocesan Shrine of St. Mary Magdalene in Pililla and Regina Rica in Tanay.
It was a spiritually enriching and uplifting pilgrimage which gave greater emphasis on prayer and personal encounter of our Lord through silence even as we travel in our respective coaches. There was an instrumental music played interspersed with the meditation and recitation of the holy rosary. It created an opportunity for personal reflection and prayer. As a novice, I took this pilgrimage as a thanksgiving for having been called and pursued by the Lord after all these years of personal struggles and uncertainties. I am grateful for His abounding love and for allowing me to answer His invitation. It brought me to recall and reflect God’s goodness manifested, with all the answered prayers and His bountiful blessings to me and in my vocation, hence, my heart swells with so much gratitude!
We had a concelebrated Mass at St. Jerome Parish, to start our pilgrimage and to put into perspective the reason of doing a pilgrimage. Fr. Federick Yumang, SMM, main celebrant and homilist, reminded us to be thankful for the faith we have received and handed down by our parents and those who came before us and to take care and nurture it. The churches we have visited truly are testaments of the faith of the people. The pilgrimage culminated at Regina Rica where we managed to join the Marian procession at 6:00 pm. Buses were not allowed to enter because of the ongoing activity for the month of the Holy Rosary. We were asked to walk going inside the Regina Rica and we were invited to join the procession inside the compound which ended at the colossal image of Mary on top of the hill. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise in culminating our pilgrimage. Truly, it was a pilgrimage with Mary, she paved the way for us to visit this beautiful shrine dedicated in her honor as Regina Rosarii. The general feedback from the pilgrims is that they felt so blessed and spiritually energized despite of our late arrival back to Timog at 9.30 pm.
I pray that the beautiful experiences that we had during this pilgrimage will be kept in our hearts and teach us always to be conscious of God’s presence in our lives with the maternal guidance of our Blessed Mother.