Br. Gary Devery, OFMCap., Provincial Minister of Capuchins in Australia, is in the country for a week to visit some of the Philippine friaries and meet the brothers. Last February 15, Br. Eugenio Lopez, Provincial Minister of Capuchins in the Philippines, and Br. Allan Samson collected him from the airport and promptly brought him to the National Shrine of our Lady of Lourdes where he will stay while in these islands.
The day after he arrived, he was brought to Intramuros where he visited San Agustin Church and its museum, Casa Manila, and the original site of Our Lady of Lourdes Church. He was then hosted to a dinner at Adarna Resto, that feature heirloom recipes from early to mid-20th century Philippine homes, for a gustatory cap to a cursory introduction to Philippine culture and history.
Come Monday, many of the Filipino friars gathered at the Postulancy House in the morning to celebrate together a (belated) feast in honor of Our Lady of Lourdes. Br. Gary attended the Mass presided by Br. Eugenio and the conference delivered by Br. Mateo Goldaraz on the history of the devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes. That afternoon, Br. Serge Arenga eagerly took him to see the Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours in Taal, Batangas. Although they arrived at dusk and the church was already closed, the resident acolyte graciously allowed them entry into the convent and the church. The largest Catholic church in all Asia, and one of the oldest, the Taal Basilica had been beautifully preserved and restored and looked magnificent in the evening lights. By 7pm, the friars were back at the friary for a simple but joyful dinner.
Br. Serge, on Tuesday morning, brought Br. Gary and company to the Carmel of Lipa and the 1948 apparition site of Our Lady Mediatrix of All Grace. Then, they visited the new parish church under the patronage of Mary of the same title. Designed by a diocesan architect-liturgist-priest, it is an imposing structure with meticulous attention to detail especially in the interiors. Afterwards, the friars went to the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Lipa where they were met by the jovial and animated Monsignor Oriondo, parish priest and rector. The morning was capped by a delicious and organic halo-halo at Casa Rap in San Jose, run by a former Good Shepherd nun who is now an environmental advocate whose efforts had organized the community and succeeded in cleaning up the river that runs through the town.
Brs. Eugenio, Allan, Jose, and Gary then drove up to Tagaytay after lunch and visited the Capuchin Parish of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Sungay. After meeting Br. Paulino Velasquez and wishing him good health (he recently underwent angioplasty), the group of friars proceeded to Filibeans for local coffee brews and an astounding view of Taal Lake and the volcano island. Afterwards, they proceeded to the theologate, the St. Lawrence of Brindisi House of Studies, where the student friars and the community feted Br. Gary with a dinner prepared by Br. Roberto San Diego himself: fresh vegetable salad, green mango appetizer, grilled pork liempo and mahi-mahi fish, sumptuous kare-kare (ox-tail in peanut sauce), and Br. Roberto’s signature pasta cooked with crunchy pork and Lucban chorizo. There was a quick after-dinner coffee before the company drove back to the Shrine via the old route in order to avoid the traffic congestion.
Mandaluyong was the itinerary for Wednesday. Br. Gary arrived at the St. Francis friary quarter to ten and immediately met Br. Edgar Martinez who was doing rounds at the school during the time. After greeting the Guardian, Br. Dominic Abella, br. Gary proceeded to the attached Lourdes School of Mandaluyong to meet its rector, Br. Edmundo Tiamson, who graciously toured him around the campus, showing Br. Gary the different amenities and offices of the school and introducing him to its different personnel. Fortunately, the group met Campus Minister and Vice-Rector Br. Alberto Poblete just before he left for Mass. After a tour of the school, br. Gary met with Br. Edgardo Dumaual who expertly and animatedly discussed the Tulay Lingap ni Padre Pio, the Province’s JPIC arm. He showcased the different clinics, laboratories, medical facilities, the pharmacy, and even the bakeshop, that are all geared towards providing relief, assistance, and livelihood to impoverished individuals and communities. The brothers then gathered for a hearty and joyful lunch where Br. Gary met the other friars of the community: Br. Rolando Briones, parish priest, Br. Francis Garces, first Filipino Capuchin-priest, Br. Cesar Acuin, Br. Gabriel Guevarra, and Br. Manuel Remirez.
Before flying back to Australia on the evening of Friday, February 21, Br. Gary is still scheduled to tour Lourdes School of Quezon City and the National Museum. His visit is much-appreciated by the friars and provides them with a warm reminder that the Order is indeed an international brotherhood of men in solidarity following the footsteps of St. Francis and of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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