Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or like a young stag on the rugged hills.—Song of Solomon, 2:17
For 113 years now, San Pascual Baylon Han Guinarona, has been doing miracles in our parish. For all those years, never has been an acknowledgment by the world at large that the Guinarona San Pascual Baylon Parish Church in Leyte, Philippines, has been a magnet for pilgrims from near and far, and it is time for rectification. Through those years, too, we have lost people actively involved in promoting the parish for pilgrimage tourism.
Of late, with the major donations by the The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the others, there has been an outstanding refurbishment of our church. Of major significance, too, is that we have had the bone relic of San Pascual Baylon since May 2012. Too, we now have a new life-size image of our dear patron saint.
In the way of water seeking its own level, it is now time to up the ante, namely, that we push for a National Shrine status.
For a church to receive the status of a national shrine involves a number of steps and certifications. It must first be a diocesan (or archdiocesan) shrine, an honor conferred by the local bishop or archbishop. To become a diocesan shrine, the subject church must be a place “to which numerous members of the faithful make pilgrimage for a special reason of piety” and exceed other churches in terms of worship, Christian formation and social services. When these requirements are met, the parish petitions the bishop to canonically elevate the church.
When devotion has grown, the diocesan shrine may petition the national Conference of Catholic Bishops. Evaluation by the nation’s bishops involves considerations including canon law, liturgy, and doctrine Wikipedia
To declare a parish church a National Shrine is indeed a great honor, but the process entails several steps and requirements. First, it has to be already a Diocesan Shrine (or Archdiocesan Shrine), it is reserved to the Bishop of the diocese to pronounce a parish as a Diocesan or Archdiocesan Shrine. It is reserved to the Bishop of the diocese to pronounce a parish a Diocesan Shrine. The Parish Church must be above other churches when it comes to worship, Christian formation and Social Services. When all these demands are met, the Priests together with the Parish Council, Parishioners and frequent church-goers should petition the Bishop to canonically elevate the church into a Diocesan Shrine.
After several years, when devotion has grown deemed and it is possible, the faithful involved in the Shrine may apply for its elevation to National level to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). Msgr. Jose stated how intense the inquiry would be before declaring a church National Shrine. He said, as in their case, its application will pass through a lengthy investigation by three Commissions of CBCP; namely the Commission on Canon Law, where the application will pass through a legal consultation, the Commission on Liturgy, which will scrutinize the frequency of the shrine in rendering liturgical services, and lastly, the Commission on Doctrine, to ensure the conformity of the shrine’s devotional practices to the teachings of the Universal Church.
The National Shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe was declared a Archdiocesan Shrine by the late Jaime Cardinal Sin on August 15, 2002. On April 5, 2004, the petition to elevate the shrine into National Level was made to Bishop Fernando Capalla of Davao, then CBCP President. Bishop Leonardo Medroso, head of the Episcopal Commission on Canon Law assigned Msgr. Romulo Vergara to head the investigative committee. On January 23, 2010 the CBCP approved the petition. The following month, February 5, 2010, the decree of establishment of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe was signed by the CBCP President Bishop Nereo P. Odchimar.
Upon the elevation of the Shrine, challenges await the shrine’s administration. Msgr. Jose said that the primary thing to face is to enable the Shrine to be a church that welcomes and cater to pilgrims in particular with life issues from womb to tomb. “Mary is the Mother of Jesus, of Christians; she is a type and model of the Church” said Msgr. Jose. “In the womb of the Mother Church, all are taken care of” he added. Fr. Erick however pointed on the adjustments he is about to take, adjustment from a small parish to not only a large parish but to a National Shrine. “Attracting more and more pilgrims devotees, not only in the archdiocese from other dioceses is the bigger challenge I would have to take.”
Amidst the complexity administering a shrine, Fr. Erick, by God’s grace, is ready to face what lies ahead in order to promote the devotion to our Lady especially pro-life advocacies. – The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila
We call on our people to work for this realization.