ALMA Pateres’ physical disability did not hinder her from getting up in the early hours of Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, to honor and greet the Blessed Virgin Mary during the “Walk with Mary 2019.”
Pateres, 54, who suffers from polio, is just one of some 9,000 Marian devotees who joined the procession of the images of the Blessed Virgin Mary on her birthday, which left the Fuente Osmena circle at 4 a.m. It ended at the Plaza Independencia, where a mass was celebrated.
Assisted by her friend, Alma has been joining the two-kilometer procession in her wheelchair for many years now.
“It has been a family tradition. Even if it’s not her birthday (we praise her), how much more if it’s her day? This is my simple way of saying thank you,” she said.
Joel Estorco, 45, who was with his wife and two children, said they made time for the Walk with Mary since it’s a good opportunity for them to bond as a family.
“We really made time for this because it’s different when it’s personal. What I am just praying for is good health and good family relationships,” he said.
While holding lighted candles, the Marian believers prayed the Holy Rosary as they walked toward Plaza Independencia.
Before the holy mass, around 30 images of the Blessed Virgin Mary under the care of the different parishes of the archdiocese and devotees were blessed.
These included the Our Lady of Reconciliation, Our Lady of China, Our Lady of all Nations, Our Lady of Consolation, Our Lady of Hope, Our Lady of Manaoag and Our Lady of Fatima.
In his homily, Msgr. Joseph Tan, Cebu Archdiocese spokesperson, reminded the faithful of the meaning and importance of the event for Catholics.
“The walk with Mary is not just a pageantry of the different images of (the) our lady. It is not a sign of our devotion to send our greetings to Our Lady on this special day. It is, more importantly, a reminder for us that in our Christian life, we need to walk with Mary in order to be faithful to God’s plan for us,” he said.
He said that at a certain point in one’s life, everyone will encounter his or her own version of the “annunciation” and they should face it without fear.
“Whether it is the challenge of considering something difficult like considering to marry now and with this person or if it involves the calling on priesthood, starting a new family, or if he or she has a concern about his health, these are our annunciations. When life brings us uncertainties, these are our annunciations and like our Lady, we will not be afraid. There is initially the resistance, but we will enter into a conversation with God,” Tan said.
In an interview, Police Major Joemar Pomarejos, Waterfront Police Station chief, said there were no untoward incidents during the entire celebration. (S)