ABBIE MONTABLAN, 21, said he is already sure of what he is going to do with his life after venerating the blood relic of Saint John Paul II and the National Youth Cross in Tacloban City.
“It’s a heartwarming experience seeing the relic of St. John Paul II for the first time. I am now more inspired. I want to be a priest,” said Montablan, a seminarian at Sacred Heart Seminary in Palo, Leyte.
“The arrival of the saint’s relic is an inspiration to us,” he added.
Montablan said that St. John Paul II who was canonized in 2014 “showed an example to the church to ‘not to be afraid’ to serve others.”
“It is a blessing that his blood relic is visiting. I have never gone deeper in my studies about him, but his message to the youth ‘to open our hearts and let Christ enter our lives’ has served as my inspiration,” he said.
“I know it’s difficult to serve people if you don’t love yourself. It’s difficult to give what you don’t have. But I am more driven now to open my life to serve others especially those in the peripheries because of the inspiration I got from St John Paul II,” he added.
Fr. Chris Arthur Militante, spokesperson of the Palo Archdiocese, said this is their first time to receive the saint’s relic.
“The relic is a first class type. Since today is the Year of the Youth, I urge our young people to venerate the relic whenever it reaches their parishes here in Eastern Visayas,” Militante said.
Meanwhile, Militante said that the National Youth Cross is the first cross ever made for the Philippine Catholic youth ministry.
The Cross had its first nationwide pilgrimage during the 25th anniversary of Episcopal Commission on Youth in 2011.
According to Militante, the visit of the relic and the Cross is a “continued preparation” for the Filipino youth to the 500th year celebration on the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines in 1521.
“St. John Paul II is very close to the youth. His teaching involved encouraging the youth and help them to grow up in God. This is very timely because the youth today are facing plenty of forces that would drive their spirituality away from the church,” Militante told ucanews.com in a report.
During his papacy, St John Paul II launched the World Youth Day in 1985.
In the 1995 World Youth Day hosted in the country, he witnessed over five million youth gathered in Manila.
While Militante admitted that he only saw the pope in television and magazines, he easily recalled the latter’s teachings every time he hears the 1995 World Youth Day theme song “Tell the World of His Love.”
“I was drawn by his simplicity, charisma, and his spirituality. Since my seminary years until I became a priest, I am inspired by his apostolic motto ‘Totus Tuus’ which means ‘totally yours’ as an expression of his total commitment and consecration,” said Militante.
“He became an inspiration for me to totally give my life to God and to the service for others,” said the 35-year-old priest.
Angela Ruby Tiozon, 16, said that venerating the relic has convinced her that she is right in volunteering for the church activities at the Sto Nino Parish in Tacloban.
“This is a big opportunity for me to live up on the teaching I learned from St John Paul II,” Tiozon said.
“The words ‘Don’t be afraid’ by St John Paul II brings a big impact to my life to do voluntary works in the parish,” Samantha Cuero, 16, told Sunstar Philippines.
According to Militante, the blood relic and the Youth Cross will tour in the Central and Eastern Visayas until May 3.
Originally, then Archbishop of Kraków His Eminence Stanislaw Cardinal Dziwisz gifted the blood relic to Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson.
Dziwisz also gave the Manila Archdiocese a vial containing the blood relic as a gift during the 60th anniversary of Manila Cathedral’s reconstruction after the devastation from World War II.
St. John Paul II once held a mass at the cathedral during his visit in the country in February 1981.
A Filipino nun based in Poland brought the still liquefied blood of the saint to the Philippines last December.
There were only seven vials containing the blood relic from St. John Paul II that are venerated across the globe.
In the Philippines, the blood relic placed in a reliquary will be under the custody of the Archdiocese of Manila.
“Let those who have special intentions and petitions come in veneration and prayer,” the Manila Archdiocese said in statement.
The veneration in Manila started in April 7.
“The pilgrimage seeks to be a meaningful moment to gather the entire Church communities and pray with and for the youth,” said Fr. Conegundo Garganta, the chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)-Episcopal Commission on Youth during the start of the pilgrim tour of the National Youth Cross and the relic of St. John Paul II in Manila.
The National Youth Cross will be brought back to the CBCP chapel in Manila while the relic of John Paul II will return to the Diocese of Balanga during the end the pilgrim tour across the country on December 12.
As a tradition, pilgrims venerated relics by touching or kissing the reliquary as “an expression of reverence for the holiness of the saint.”
Since early times, Christians have traveled from far places to get inspiration from the lives and the relics of holy men to follow their examples or seek answers to their prayers. (SunStar Philippines)