THOUSANDS of Negrense devotees of St. Therese of the Child Jesus in Negros Occidental venerated at the pilgrim relics of the Doctor of the Church during her fourth visit in the country that included some cities and towns in the province, said Serge Tan, Visayas coordinator of the visit of the pilgrim relics.
The lives of the devotees have been touched, renewed and reinvigorated by the Saint herself where all her visits in the Philippines – from 2000, 2008, 2013 and this year – were filled with her grace, said Maria Teresa Causing, head of the Education Committee of St. Therese, adding the reason why their theme for her visit to the Philippines was “Salamat St. Therese!”
Causing said there were new learning, re-discoveries about faith and the concrete living out of the little way of St. Therese. Her little way is the sure way wherein little by little, “our learning was deepened by her doctrine of the Little Way, an example that earned her the title as the Doctor of the Church.”
The veneration continuous even before the pilgrim relics was about to leave the Carmelite Monastery in Barangay Mandalagan, Bacolod City yesterday, past 9 a.m. “As we were about to leave, there were still people who came to venerate to the relics up to the time when we were already getting out of Carmelite,” she added.
She said there are a joy and certain sadness about her visit because they heard that the pilgrim relics will be back after 10 years.
She said it was Tan who echoed the message he got from the Lisieux people that the relics, which stayed in the Philippines for five months, will be back after a decade instead of coming back after five years.
But the meaning of her visit to her has deepened her awareness of her reasons for saying that even after her death, she will go around, she added.
“My mission to make God loved will begin after my death. I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses,” she said, quoting a line of St. Therese.
And that mission began after she died on September 30, 1897. “Her main focus is to make souls love Jesus. Every time Her story is told, it is the love story she had for Jesus. It is not me Therese but Jesus. She is a very much an instrument of God.
That is the reason why she entered Carmel which is to pray for the sinners and priests. She has a special devotion to pray for the seminarians, priests, and missionaries. She was called the Patroness of the Missions,” Causing said.
Meanwhile, Ginnette Yanson-Dumancas, a devotee of St. Therese who is one of the members of Yahong ni Therese, thanked the Saint herself for her intercession by whispering her prayers to God.
“I never thought that it would be this fast. We too have our own problems and I asked for her intercession if she could relay my concerns to God and to possibly prioritize them. I need His guidance through St. Therese on what needs to be done first. I fervently waited for answers and St. Therese has indeed helped me,” she said.
She shared they waited for the pilgrim relics to arrive at the Carmelite.
“While waiting, we continue the food preparation. It was indeed a blessing that when I came out to also witness her arrival, I was properly located in an area where most of the petals of flowers showered by the Carmelite nuns as they warmly welcomed the relics fell on me. It just fell easily into my hands which was a rare experience. I did not have a handkerchief to wipe it to the reliquary but I just let things flow naturally.”
She said they were constantly cooking during the visit of the pilgrim relics. I want to make sure that the arroz caldo will also be ready by the time the devotees will need to eat. “But I thanked St. Therese for her grace and blessings to me and my family,” she said.
She has been helping the “Yahong ni Therese” along with some kind-hearted individuals who shared their blessings to provide this meal to the devotees.
Every day, they have to prepare the arroz caldo which is good for 5,000 people.
“And the preparation required us to wake up early in the morning along with the other devotees. This is no joke. Just imagine the tasks ahead. But we have created a system that made everything run systematically. We have mastered the skills from the preparation of the needed ingredients to the cooking and then serving the meal to the devotees. It is like a conveyor belt in a factory where all the materials are placed on the conveyor and the conveyor run it systematically,” she said.
The “Yahong ni Therese” was made possible with the combined efforts of the devotees which are in line with St. Therese's Little Way - her path of hope and saintliness consisted with being simple with God and oneself.
Dumancas said it’s good to do the little things for others and doing it with love.