Close to 60,000 devotees flock to feast of Divine Mercy

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Monday, April 28, 2014


BE IT an old lady leaning on her staff, a kid holding his mother’s hand, lovers trekking, a groupie at the backseat – everyone, it seemed, went to only one direction: the Divine Mercy Shrine for its annual feast on Sunday.

Amid the scorching heat, the devotees walked and drove to the gates of the Divine Mercy Shrine in slow, caterpillar-like queues. After the mass, people were seen converged along the highway either eating, waiting for a public ride and others took refuge under the shade of the trees while motorists tried to find their way out of the traffic congestion.

According to reports by the police deployed in the area and the Divine Mercy Foundation (DMF) officials, close to 60,000 people attended the feast since its kick-off Saturday, April 26.

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“The count now is higher compared last year. The people who are here today come from outside El Salvador. There are also new faces and new devotees,” Lorna Llanos, executive coordinator of the DMF, said.

Snarled traffic

Traffic along the highway leading to the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro had been snarled for almost four hours especially along the municipalities of Laguindingan, Alubijid and some parts of Opol.

At past 8 in the morning on Sunday, vehicles and people from the shrine were beginning to come down from the shrine while others who were headed to the shrine added to the already tangled traffic that slowed motorists for two to four hours in the highway.

Devotees

There is a first [for] everything; and true enough Gwynetha Alegro, a 41-year-old devotee, had her first taste of what the feast was like.

Alegro, donned in a yellow apparel, the color of their organization’s uniform, was with her friends and co-devotees who came all the way from Sarangani province in a 10-hour drive that most of them complained to have hurt their hips and butts.

But Alegro was there to pray, she said.

“I came here to pray and I don’t care what happens. I would just like to pray and attend to this feast and be with the other pilgrims whose devotion is very much the same with me,” she added.

Alegro is a housewife but helps her husband in the family’s farm that sustains them.

Sometime in 2011, she was diagnosed with a kidney failure.

“My family and I spent almost P300,000 to get me through it. We were having problems with the doctors because not one of them would want to help me. But with powerful prayers to God, one good doctor helped me by checking me up closely. He would even go to our house just to do that. I thought there was no one who’s going to help me,” she recalled.

The doctor now declared Alegro as well.

“With prayers from me and my family, God heard me. He answered and resolved my problems. I am a bit ‘beefy’ now compared before that I barely had flesh,” she said.

Just like Alegro, Leonora Adocor is a first-timer herself who traveled all the way from Butuan City with her two children.

She was striding fast on her wedges because she was in a hurry. She was bringing a rosary and a little booklet with her. She and her family camped out so they could attend one of the holy masses for the day at 3 a.m.

Adocor started praying when her family encountered lots of problems; first, when her daughter died from giving birth.

“I pray for her. I pray for her soul. I pray for my seven other children too. I pray for good health and for us to be financially stable,” Adocor said.

But more than anything, she went through so many struggles to get to the Divine Mercy shrine to pray.

“To thank Him for everything He has done for us. For when in times of need, he never fails to give and be there. Although sometimes indirect and time-consuming, but spending one's everything to it, for Him, is worth it,” Adocor added.

Loloy Gripo, a businessman, came all the way from Davao del Sur with his relatives and friends.

They came in a bus, sat for hours to reach the shrine. They were supposed to camp so they could hear the mass at 3 a.m. but due to some problems met along the way, they arrived in the morning.

Gripo was with his mother and his wife. He was carrying their bags while the women waited in line to fill their containers with the holy water.

He is 54 and bears no child. He and his wife had plans but thought they were too old to have one or to adopt one for that matter.

He has a food business back home. “Business has not been doing well,” he said. But his eyes beamed with optimism.

“I just submit everything to God. I know He never leaves me or my family or all the people. I’ve been praying that my business will soon be back on track so my workers will not have problems too. Money is difficult to find, so I understand them,” Gripo shared.

He also prayed for the betterment of Mindanao and for the whole country.

“I pray for the whole Mindanao especially on the Bangsamoro Agreement. I am a resident in Mindanao so my prayers aren’t just for myself but for my community and my country as well. Enough with the war, it is unnecessary and expensive.”

Currently, his family is helping marginalized children who wish to pursue high school. Once evaluated, they send them to a school in Cebu.

“I love people who work so hard for their education. It’s like they value it, unlike the others. I am also like that before so I know how it feels,” Gripo furthered.

Two special events

Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of the archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro celebrated the holy mass at 3 a.m.

In time with the feast was the canonization of two modern popes: Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII.

“This is a very special today. Two important events happening in one day: The canonization and the Feast,” Ledesma said.

With him are the priests of Franciscan Congregation of the Mary Immaculate, Marian fathers, among many other religious and lay leaders.

“Seeing more people coming to the Feast to celebrate is one overwhelming thing,” Ledesma said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on April 28, 2014.

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