On Monday, March 8, a parish in Bataan province that is dedicated to Saint John Paul II was granted the status of a diocesan shrine.
The church, which is now called the Diocesan Shrine and Parish of Saint John Paul II, was inaugurated during an event hosted by the Balanga diocese. The celebration was held in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the beloved saint-pope’s visit to Bataan province on February 21, 1981.
Archbishop Charles John Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, presided over the Holy Mass which highlighted the milestone event.
Refuge, Comfort, Shelter
During the Mass, Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos told the parishioners that they have a lot to be proud of with the shrine. Despite the pandemic, “we are here together and we have triumphed in building this church that we now dedicated as a diocesan shrine,” he said.
Santos also said that the shrine will serve as a reminder to the faithful of their duty to provide refuge, comfort, and shelter to those in need. (Read: Pope Francis Homilies: Valuable Lessons on Christian Living)
“We are called through this shrine not only to have a place for seeking God, but also be a people that seek God and be a home where pilgrims experience hope like what St. John Paul II showed Filipinos and refugees 40 years ago,” Santos said.
“May this shrine, which is clearly seen by anyone along the crossroads to and from Bataan, be a light that guides people that one is welcome in Bataan and one is guided by God as he or she leaves Bataan,” he added.
Diocesan Shrine of Saint John Paul II
Located in Hermosa’s Culis village, the Diocesan Shrine of Saint John Paul II was built along the highway to allow easier access to people who are traveling through the town.
“This is the first parish that travelers would now be able to visit once they enter Bataan through the Bataan Provincial Highway,” said Fr. Anthony Sibug, the parish’s parochial vicar. (Read: Bataan Diocese Eyes Free COVID-19 Vaccine for Church Workers)
As of writing, the Balanga diocese already has six diocesan shrines. These are Saint John Paul II Parish in Hermosa, St. Joseph Parish in Balanga, San Roque Parish in Limay town, St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish in Bagac, the Holy Family Parish in Orani, and the Divine Mercy Parish in Abucay.