Monday, February 16, 2015

Homily of Bishop Roberto Mallari at the Enthronement of the Holy Face in Immaculate Conception Parish, Nampicuan, Nueva Ecija, Philippines

Brothers in the episcopate, Excellency Monsignor Florentino Lavarias, Archbishop of San Fernando, Excellency Msgr. Florentino Cinense, Bishop of Tarlac, dear priests led by Fr Christian Magtalas, pastor of the parish of Immaculate Conception, the organizing group for the visit of the Holy Face of Manoppello, led by the Rector of the Basilica of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Father Carmine Cucinelli, dear benefactors led by the Alzate and Gallego families, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good afternoon to you all. We are gathered here to enthrone the Sudarium of the Holy Face of Manoppello revered as the funeral veil of Christ on which is imprinted the Holy Face of the Risen Lord.

Why is this taking place in a small parish in the country town of Nampicuan when there are basilicas, shrines and cathedrals in the dioceses and in the archdioceses of the Philippines?  A simple parish, unknown, unpopular and humble; nevertheless has been chosen to host the Sudarium of the Holy Face of Jesus, the relic most studied by many scientists. Do you know that the motto of Pope Francis 'Miserable atque eligendo',  means,'Humble and chosen'. In short, this is the summary of the Magnificat (Luke 1,46-55), where Mary praises God for having lifted up the lowly. these words embody the wisdom of God, who chooses "what is weak in the world to shame the strong '' (1 Corinthians 1:27). These words capture the experience of each of us, called by God to a mission; the experience of a community called by God for a mission such as the parish of the Immaculate Conception.

This experience manifests the continuous love of God as the Good Shepherd and his preference for the poor. In short, these words are a summary of the whole divine economy. As our Blessed Mother Mary, the community of the parish of the Immaculate Conception, despite its littleness, is privileged, called and chosen to take care of this relic of the Holy Face. Each of you are invited, through the intercession of Blessed Mother Mary, the Immaculate Conception, to look and to know God by fixing your eyes on the face of his son Jesus. Father Raniero Cantalamessa reminded us during the retreat of the national clergy, "You become what it is you gaze upon!” We become Jesus if we look constantly upon him with love.

Fr. Christian Magtalas told me about the extraordinary spiritual renewal that took place during the preparation for this important event: he said it is the experience of being risen from sin, from the darkness, from human frailty.  This gift, that is, to have the Holy Face of Jesus, brings us light, conversion from a sinful life, unity and healing from our weakness. He said that many people began to attend Holy Mass. It is like a spark that brings enlightenment to those who had not bothered to attend Mass and to enrich their relationship with God.

Many stories have been heard about conversion, that that is “pagbabalik sa Diyos” (return to the way of God).  A very concrete example, he said, was a group of young people- altar boys when they were younger- and others who have helped in the preparation of our celebration today. They worked to beautify the surroundings of the parish church. These young men were starting to work from 5pm right out of school and continued until midnight.

They thus found joy and a new meaning for having put themselves at the service of the Church. Many of them approached for sacramental confession with a common reason: “‘we want to purify ourselves before welcoming the Holy Face of Jesus.”  Father Christian after listening to their confessions, said that “they were the most significant of his ministry”

According to the pastor, there have already occurred many healings, especially in interpersonal relationships. Many people were attracted by the unity and let themselves be drawn by this force to work together as a single body. Each extends a hand to help, and so it began. . Even more, some people who though belonging to other religions have contributed to the preparation of this great event.

Also, there are those who have turned their back on the Church and now are returning. Even before its arrival we already have felt the presence of the Holy Face of Jesus.

The people of Nampicuan and the entire Diocese of San Jose welcome the sudarium of the Holy Face of Jesus as a blessing. And for this great gift, we sincerely thank the Lord. The gifts received during the preparation for this event can affirm this reality. Indeed, many have become so generous and open in welcoming the presence of the Lord in the persons of our brothers and sisters. Everyone really gave something according to his ability.  We really have experienced the true ministry. To God be the glory!

Dear faithful of Nampicuan, I pray sincerely to the Lord that the experiences of light, healing and conversion that you experienced in recent weeks and months can become a permanent experience especially now that the veil of the Holy Face of Jesus is enthroned in your parish.

Pope Benedict XVI reminded the faithful in his homily during his visit to the Shrine of Manoppello that if we have the desire to know God, we can know him through the face of Christ. He said that this is the reason why we venerate the images that tradition considers as exceptional ways to glimpse this face, both in Manoppello as in Turin. "The Shroud of Turin," he said, "is an icon written in blood.  Every trace of blood speaks of love and of life. ""While the veil of Manoppello is the sudarium of Christ. This is the mysterious second cloth from the grave of the Crucified Christ that John the Evangelist discovered about 40 hours after the death of Jesus- along with another, linen sheet." 

In Manoppello, we glimpse on his face an initial ray of the light that the apostle saw on Tabor during the Transfiguration, as is narrated by St. Matthew 5:3-14. Both cloths contain images of light, on one weak and shadowy, while on the other truly clear. The cloth of the tomb is gigantic; the other is the size of a napkin. His portrait is exactly the size of a human face, on which we perceive him alive, that is, after his death and not before- with the wounds of his passion, but liberated, peaceful, benevolent.

The Shroud of Turin contains, in addition to the discreet image, many stains of blood from a totured man; while the napkin illustrates the "Lamb of God" killed, but intact and fully pure and cleansed, with a face that closely unites pain and sorrow and light as only love can do. As Archbishop Bruno Forte said. "This reminds us that Christ died and rose, never to die again. Here the history of humanity has decisively changed"

In today's first reading, we are reminded that we are one body in Christ and drink of the same spirit, the source of different gifts in the mystical body of Christ. Our celebration today, invites us to glimpse that this Mystical Body of Christ has a head, Jesus Christ.

As we look to the Holy Face of Jesus, let our first principle be that the Lord Jesus remain always as our head, so that the gifts we possess are always offered to the service of the mystical body. This will be a concrete way to avoid competition and jealousy; to really work together always for the building of the body of Christ, the Church. I was talking to Archbishop Lavarias this morning and I asked him why even in Church we cannot avoid jealousy and rivalry among members.  He replied, 'perhaps because many times we lose sight of the head of the Church, Jesus'.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus, known as St. Teresa of the Holy Face of Jesus, when she realized she was part of this mystical body of Christ,   cried ecstatically:  "I want to be love in the heart of Church!” Today, as we look upon the Holy Face of Jesus of Manoppello, as we gaze upon our Head, we pray that we can find our place in the mystical body of Christ and shouting ecstatically as did St. Teresa, "I too want to be love in the head or hands or feet of Jesus." Let us pray that we find our place in the Church, and to give ourselves wholeheartedly to the glory of God and the Church.

When I was chosen as bishop, Pope Benedict XVI, commissioned me: "Teach, dear son, the faithful to know how to recognize the presence of Christ in every person, so they can find and see his face in the midst of the other, but especially in the poor."

I realized that to do this, one of the first things that I needed to do is also to challenge you and ask you to always look upon the face of Jesus so that it is imprinted forever in your hearts. This surely will remind us of our Head and become a challenge to offer ourselves as a gift for the whole mystical body of Christ, especially the sick, the poor and the marginalized.

 May the Lord Jesus through every member of this parish of the Immaculate Conception give notice to the sick, to the poor and to those who are and lifeless: 'I tell you, little girl or boy, arise! “May the arrival of the veil of the Holy Face of Jesus bring us spiritual renewal, healing and salvation, so that we may be able to exult: "God has truly visited his people!”Amen.

S. E. Rev. Msgr. Roberto Calara Mallari

Bishop of the Diocese of San Jose, Nueva Ecija, Philippines

translated from the Italian version of the homily which appeared in the December 2014 edition of Il Volto Santo di Manoppello, the journal of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Holy Face in the USA 2014

(we continue to report on the Mission of the Holy Face to the Philippines and the USA in September 2014.  This article originally appeared in the journal of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello -- Il Volto Santo di Manoppello, December 2014 edition)

by Father Carmine Cucinelli, O.F.M, Cap.

Bellevue (Washington)

From Philadelphia, after flying across the entire US, we landed in Seattle. Mrs. Daisy Neves, the benefactor who financed  the mission for the dissemination of the Holy Face in America, greeted us at the airport and brought us to Bellevue, where she wanted us to begin, in her hometown, in her own parish.The church is modern, named after St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, the founder of the Religious of the Sacred Heart, and rises up on the top of a hill.

The structure is mostly made of wood with some parts in concrete, with a single nave which has a large crucifix behind the main altar.  To the left is the place for the musicians  complete with drums, organ, brass, flutes, guitars etc. and the place for the choir with several microphones on stands.   It must be really exciting to participate at the Mass on Sunday.   After preparing an adjacent room for the talk on the Holy Face, we celebrated the Holy Mass.  The pastor presided and I preached  the homily in Italian which Don Danilo translated into english.

A giant poster of the Holy Face was placed in front of the altar. Something notable:  the faithful are given the possibility to  receive Holy Communion under both species.  The priest distributed  communion with the Host while a lay person held the chalice a little distance away so that the faithful who wished could partake.  At the end the pastor thanked all for the excellent program and asked both Don Danilo and me to speak.  Then in a reception hall the presentation on the Holy Face began.  Everyone was very attentive as Don Danilo spoke in English and translated for me.   Afterwards, refreshments were served, Filipino style, a buffet filled with all kinds of food including dessert.

Second City: San Francisco (California)

We arrived by plane and landed in the early afternoon.   Raymond Frost came to pick us up and brought us to our hotel.  I wish to point out that Raymond edits a blog in english based in San Francisco which is entirely dedicated to the Holy Face of Manoppello, very up to date, with news, photos and

The first stop was the nearby city of East Palo Alto, in the church of St. Francis of Assisi.   Here we celebrated Mass presided by the the pastor, who said some parts in English and others in Spanish.  Among those present at the Mass was Mrs.  Augustine Pham, the lady who following her visit to Manoppello helped make it possible for me to come to San Francisco.  After Mass, the presentation was given in Spanish with Don Danilo also speaking  in English.   It is a very unique parish community made up of faithful from  a number of ethnic groups speaking Spanish for the most part, but of English speaking groups as well, so that the liturgies are very unique.

The next morning at the church of St. Ignatius of Loyola. At 10am the presentation was given in English. The sacristans set up  in the sanctuary a large screen with the projection from behind.  Amazingly, the response to the presentation was beyond expectations.  There were numerous questions raised by those present seeking clarification.  We saw the tremendous desire to learn more about this topic.

The main sacristan, Raymond Frost, who organized the event including the  publicity with flyers and internet and newspaper postings, was very satisfied with the participation of those present.  At Noon we celebrated Holy Mass with the assistant pastor presiding.  In the afternoon Augustine took us for a tour of the city, bringing us over the famous Golden Gate Bridge and then for a visit to the very modern style Cathedral.  Then she took us  to the airport for our flight to Las Vegas.

Third city: Las Vegas (Nevada).

The flight from San Francisco to Las Vegas was very short, only an hour and twenty minutes.   Awaiting us there were Ms. Daisy, Joanne, Tita and other friends with a welcome sign showing the Holy Face.  In the afternoon they were all there at  Rancho Destino, in the parish of Don Nadin Abou Said, dedicated to St. Charbel.   The Mass was celebrated in Italian, I presided and gave the homily. Italians were, in reality, very few, most were Filipinos and other ethnic groups.  From time to time it was translated into  English.  The choirs performed songs in Italian which were taught to them by a talented lady.  The Mass was celebrated in a large multi-purpose hall, used for liturgy as well as other events:  receptions, banquets and such.

After the Mass I gave a chasuble with the image of the Holy Face to Don Nadin, who wore it until the last moment of the day.   A presentation followed with projections of the images of the Holy Face, video, and comments in english.  At the end the community offered a buffet supper to all.

What is  Las Vegas like at night? So many lights of diverse colors.  Along a main road were built hotel-casinos, each with a theme: vintage Roman Empire with large buildings Roman columns, statues etc, London with its famous bridge, Pirates with ships, Paris  with the Eiffel tower, the world of fairies, Venice with Piazza San Marco, the bridge of Rialto.  An unending line of shops selling the latest fashion clothing,  jewelry, leather goods and every other kind of luxury.

But what is most impressive are the slot machines, hundreds and hundreds in every structure. The center of all the attractions is located in the Bellagio. Lights, flowers, gardens. The beautiful performance of the hotel's fountain on the lagoon named "Como" with jets that shoot spectacular bursts of water into the air to the sound of music.

North of the city there is the parish of Our Lady of Las Vegas, which is very well attended.The church was full of people of all ages.  Some volunteers showed those who arrived late to the remaining empty seats.  Very organized.  A mixed choir of about 25 members,  to the right of the sanctuary with a piano in the back,  three violins and a viola, with a dozen microphones.  The assistant pastor presided over the celebration and we concelebrated.

The sacristan Adna Martinez, who organized the gathering at the parish served as lector for the readings and prayers of the faithful.  Some of the songs performed were in english but the majority were in the language of the Philippines (Tagalog).  To allow everyone to follow the songs the words were projected on two screens up high to the right and left of the altar.

It worked very well.   Everyone was very attentive.  At the end of the presentation there were many questions.   Afterwards many of the faithful approached to have a picture taken close to the Holy Face but  above all, to receive the blessing of the priest.

This city, which has a bad reputation in the world to be the "Sin City", of corruption and vice, however, has nevertheless  many devout and religious people trying to live a Christian life according to the plan of God.

Friday, February 6, 2015

WHY NAMPICUAN? The story behind the scenes of the Holy Face enthronement

by Merla Tabora Canoy
photos courtesy of Fr. Christian Magtalas

EPILOGUE , a 30 year journey continues ,   the biggest event to remember, the coming of the Holy Face of Jesus  of Manopello enshrined into our Immaculate Conception parish of Nampicuan, Philippines

It has been fifteen days since my husband and I got back from the Philippines. The exhiliration and euphoria along with the jetlag is beginning to calm down my nerves. It was a trip and the most exciting pilgrimage of a lifetime. To think that what I wrote 10 months ago and got published at the Asian Journal during the Christmas season was an excitement  I could not  shake off till today  and now I have to tell a more exciting story and I don’t know where and how to begin. I keep praying to the Holy Spirit to help me and guide me write the whole story as it is.

Yes, our hometown pastor Fr Hanz Christian Magtalas, a very young priest whom I got to chat on Face book about 10 months ago as I was scouring Facebook for some inspiration to add to the flip side  of  the first edition ticket for our first Gala for the Nampicuan Dreamers , I friend-requested  him.  He then mentioned about  his dream to elevate our church to become a pilgrimage church for the Lady of Immaculate Conception with pictures and building plans for this huge project. Our church there was his first assignment, the poorest church in one of the smallest town in Nueva Ecija. Yet his enthusiasm and his rapport with the community were infectious. It is as if God was listening and so He made us all to get together and worked hard to make it happen. 

A chance meeting by one of our members Eugenia Bartolome with Lenlen Alzate at a medical center in Las Vegas was the beginning of this journey. To meet the couple Lenlen and Ernest, their generous offer of support for our organization was a huge opener. To have them as our main guests as well as sponsors for major door prizes for the Gala event was an unexpected gift. What a coincidence is it that while our group was having a meeting and cracking our brains  what major door prizes   to give away coming from own personal limited pockets sometime , and then the phone rang. It was Eugenia calling and handing the phone over to Lenlen to talk to us about  saving a table for her and her family and offers of 15  major and small prizes to give away at the Gala.  Such a huge surprise, we were totally knocked out by her call that we all felt it was a miracle right then and there.  

Ernest, Lenten’s husband, is the grandson of the first ambassador from the Philippines to Australia and a descendant of the former hacienda landowners. No one from our town can forget working on their lands and how even before the land reform his family gave the town a village for the farmers and planned it like the first small scale duplicate of Chicago downtown’s  linear grid. His family left the town many years ago after the land reform. 

The only memory they have left was their old mansion that was donated to the diocese, renovated by the diocese to become a full function house and hall for special meetings. Just recently it has been consecrated as the House of Mary. A special house  guest lives there intermittently, a  young Lady , a movie star by the name of Chin Chin Gutierrez who has left the glam and glitter of the movie screen in exchange for a quiet, reserve  life of a consecrated woman determined  to serve the Lord above all else.

   During dinner at their country club, our friend Marite, one of our cofounding members mentioned to Lenlen that she probably will undergo chemotherapy after the doctor’s second opinion. Lenlen then took a card from her purse and told her; pray to His Holy Face, miracles are already happening.  Oblivious to this, I was not listening to what was going on. Little did I know that this was the first encounter with the Holy Face and the beginning of a beautiful story with a wonderful miraculous ending.  

After a long conversation and getting to know each other at the dinner table we walked back to their beautiful house on a hill overlooking Las Vegas and its glittering lights. The house is filled with the subtle sound of music of the Dominican monks and their Gregorian chant.  Lenlen is so down to earth, so easy to be with and could not help myself asking her how she and Ernest met. They were introduced by Lenten’s very close friend. Ernest made the first move  of  a marriage proposal after their first date, what can I say , she says, we have the same interest and faith in God, we both found out we go to church every day and for more than 30 years we never had  a fight. Whenever we have some difficulties or we want to pray for somebody in need, we pray the 2000 Hail Mary’s all day nonstop. He will be upstairs reciting the prayers and I will be downstairs responding as he leads or we take turns. That was the time I felt the uniqueness of this couple, so prayerful, so divinely beautiful and in tune with the Holy presence of God in their life.  

During the Gala the couple handed us a check for our organization to add to the kitty of funds to be donated as planned. A few days after the Gala Lenlen called telling me she is going on a trip to the Philippines and would like to visit our church in Nampicuan and meet with the  parish priest and would I help her  find a guide  to get there .

I found her a guide indeed with my cousin Marissa Africa Cabugao who continued this journey along with Doris Lopez (Len Len’s best friend) to help   with the planning, funding and preparing for Fr.Carmine’s visit.

Lenlen Alzate ‘s first encounter with the Holy Face, September 2013
A few weeks before our dinner invitation with the Alzates, Lenlen and Ernest travelled to Carmel California. Ernest is meeting with his golf buddies for the weekend. They attended an early morning mass at the local church. While Ernest was out playing golf with friends, Lenlen stayed at the hotel and went back to sleep. A few hours later she woke up hearing a voice telling her to go back to church, find the mission church. Lord, Lenlen says, Lord I went to church already this morning. Still that voice keeps on telling her, go back to church, and find the mission church.

 Like Jesus telling his disciples “follow me, come and see” she listened to this voice, willed herself to go out and just do it. As she was leaving the hotel, a woman across the street was yelling at her “don’t forget the Dolphin Hotel!” 3 times she yelled at Lenlen, so she said ok, whatever you say. Not knowing where to go she kept on walking down the road, many cars  were passing by , every people she meet she was asking for direction where could she  find the mission church and everyone always telling her “oh, that’s  too far to walk, you need a ride” but keeps on walking anyway  until she prayed and  said” Lord, you are sending me to some place that’s way too far, send me a ride” and at that moment a car stopped, with 3 girls in the car , the driver asking her where  is she going? She answered I’ m going to the mission church and the lady said: that’s too far, hop in we are going the same way. Feeling safe she hitched a ride and as soon as she got out, they sped up right away back to the freeway.

 It was already a little dark when she found the Carmel Mission church. 

(editor's note:  this church was founded by Blessed Junipero Serra, the 18th century Franciscan missionary known as "the apostle and father of California" who Pope Francis announced last month during his trip to the Philippines that he will canonize during his upcoming trip to the United States this September.  Blessed Junipero founded this church in Carmel to be the headquarters of all the California missions.). 

Carmel Mission photo by Stephen Lea from Wikipedia

The church door was closed and dark, except for the front door light shining on this lady sitting alone by the church doorstep. Lenlen feeling, puzzled, confused and anxious to go back to the hotel right away but the call of nature and looking for the nearest restroom got her into conversation with that lady sitting by the doorstep. She directed her where to go. A few minutes later she came back to thank her and she introduced herself. They struck up a conversation. They found each other having a mutual common ground about owning properties in Las Vegas. 

The lady introduced herself as Ms.Daisy Neves from Seattle, WA, and then asked her if she knew about the Holy Face. Lenlen said no but is it the same as the Shroud of Turin she asked..  Ms Daisy then took out a picture of the Holy Face  telling her the story of its origin in Manoppello and believes there was a very fine  handkerchief placed over Jesus' face during His entombment  and that during His resurrection  as He opened His eyes, He left this indelible image untouched by human hands  , a picture of himself with those beautiful eyes, showing the marks of thorns on his temple and the bruises in His cheeks and around His mouth reminding us all the humiliation and beatings He suffered to redeem us from sins of our own human failures. 

Lenlen immediately accepted the picture and a couple of prayer cards and discussed her plans to take it to the Lady of Las Vegas church as far as to San Francisco. Daisy Neves was so amazed at Lenlen’s focus and attention. Amazed that Lenlen accepted her belief and expressed her interest in propagating the Holy Face without any hesitation, she seemed relieved that perhaps she is the one she has been waiting for after all those months or years of searching, travelling from one mission church to another all over the country, denied so many times by many church parishioners, even deacons and priests would say no, they are not interested.  It was time to go back to the hotel,

 Lenlen had no idea where to get a ride. Daisy said she has a car and offered to drive her to hotel, however she cannot remember at which hotel she is staying. At that moment, Lenlen asked her, was it the Dolphin Hotel next to mine? And Daisy was surprised, yes that’s it, how did you know. Lenlen simply said, while I was walking out of the hotel a lady was shouting and determined for me to remember the Dolphin hotel , 3 times she yelled at me,  a confirmation of the Lord’s message “ Follow me, come and see” .

A few weeks later a chance meeting   with Eugenia  at the doctor’s office or is it really  a chance, a coincidence  or a miracle of  His Divine Providence, to start the beginning of a another journey with the Nampicuan Ne  Dreamers to come full circle with the wish of a newly ordained parish priest  Fr . Magtalas to elevate our church (some 10 months ago) and  now to have become a pilgrimage church of the Immaculate Conception.  Not only this  wish was granted but with an added huge surprise to become  a shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello  from  Italy, the first Shrine in the country  and the first in the entire Asia. 

Which leaves everybody from out of town asking, why ? why of all places, the littlest , most unknown ,poorest town in Nueva Ecija , why was our town and church  chosen to be the Shrine of the Holy Face of Jesus in this country. If these things happened without Divine Providence then what is this? If every one of us can only believe it, it happened because of this, the first Gala invitation ticket and post card of the Blessed Mother Of Immaculate Conception of Nampicuan comes with a prayer and petition, a picture of her and the fundraising efforts of this little parish asking for help to raise funds for the improvement and building of a retablo. 

Add to the fact that 2 months before Ernesto Gonzales’  death, he was as reminiscing his days in Nampicuan as an active minister of faith for the  community of the Immaculate Conception parish in Nampicuan.  Along with his wife Nene  who was the church  treasurer, he expressed his wish for Nampicuan to become one day a pilgrimage church like the Lady of Manaog . His wife Nene expressly objected to his idea by saying Impossible! but secretly wishing for it too. 

And another person I have in mind is my uncle Leopoldo Africa who was the inspiration to form this organization some 30 years ago has passed on 7 years ago. He did not live to see the beauty and glory of our unique organization but I know deep in my heart that these two people had been watching us and praying for us to succeed as a cohesive group , as a community of faith and service in His name.

This month of October being the month of the Holy Rosary the priest in my church reminds us all from the book of John:
“The Lord said to his Mother. “Let your heart rejoice and be glad, for every favor and every gift has been given to you by my Father in heaven and from me and from the Holy Spirit. Every soul that calls upon your name shall not be ashamed, but shall find mercy and comfort and support and confidence both in the world that now is and that which is to come, in the presence of my Father in the heavens.”

 Sept 28, 2014:  A reading from the Letter of St Paul to the Philippians  4:6-9
“Brothers and sisters, have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petitions with thanksgiving, make your requests know to  God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and in Jesus Christ. Finally my brothers and sisters , whatever is true ,whatever is honorable, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious ,if  there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise , think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you”

To the NNE Dreamers who attended last year’s Gala, please look into the invitation card again and check it for yourself. Has a miracle happened because we asked for it, prayed for it, we petitioned for it and Mother Mary interceded by whom all graces bestowed upon her by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, today we have a Shrine of the Holy Face of Jesus and Blessed Mother and together, in our little most beautiful church, built together with love and labor by this little community of faith. 

The entire preparation to finish the renovation was a complete surprise, everyone in the community even non Catholics came by to help. Because everybody already felt His presence, His visible visit and affirmation of a priest from Manopello, by his Divine Providence, sent living disciples in the spirit of Lenlen and Ernest and Daisy Neves leading and choosing everyone to come, follow and see the goodness of the Lord. If this is not a miracle, then what do you call it otherwise? 

A few months ago I was listening to a homily by Father Cassidy at my parish of Immaculate Conception in Monrovia; he asks everyone, what do you think of the word coincidence? To some people, they shrugged it off, it just happens they say. But to many of us, we call it a miracle because we have faith and the belief that God’s  miracles is the only way in this modern day and age for Him to convey his message to us. It may take a little while to get there, bumps along the road they say, but these are challenges He wants us face just like He did 2014 years ago. And so He came to our community to remind us all that He loves us, His presence is all around us that as we seek His face in prayer to honor and adore Him and thanking Him`, He is already consoled.

written as it is , as it happened, as it was told

Merla Tabora Canoy

October 19, 2014

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Recap of Historic September 2014 Mission of the Holy Face to the United States West Coast and to the Philippines Part One

Fr. Christian Magtalas and Fr. Carmine Cucinelli

Translated from the official journal of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello "Il Volto Santo di Manoppello" December 2014 edition
photos courtesy of Father Christian Magtalas

By Father Carmine Cucinelli, O.F.M., Cap.

The Holy Face has again crossed the ocean and has reached the Far West of the USA, in particular the city of Las Vegas and then went on to the Philippine Islands, touching Asia. The idea for this trip came from Mrs. Daisy Neves, a very devout Filipina resident of Bellevue in the state of Washington, USA. Just as in 1638 Doctor Donatantonio de Fabritiis, after donating to the Capuchins the Sacred Relic then invited them to spread devotion to the Holy Face, so Mrs. Neves turned in our time to the Capuchins to make known the sacred Image in a territory very far from the center of Christianity. She deserves our most heartfelt thanks, as also thank to the religious superiors who gave approval to the mission: the Capuchin Provincial Father Carmine Ranieri and Mons. Bruno Forte, Archbishop of Chieti who wrote the letters of credence to the Bishops of the dioceses where the presentations were held. Thanks also to Don Danilo Flores who was my interpreter. Thanks to the ladies Joanne Domantay and Elena Alzate, Doris Lopez, Mrs. Elenita Binay, wife of the Vice President of the Philippines Jejomar Binay.

By the editors of "Il Volto Santo di Manoppello"

What for us at the shrine of Manoppello was a simple visit to make known the Holy Face and to spread the devotion in parishes contacted by friends, for the Filipinos was a grand event. The Episcopal Conference of the Philippines, by a statement on its website, disseminated the program of the mission, even pronouncing that "The faithful Filipinos would have the possibility of venerating a copy of that which is believed to be the imprint of the face of the Lord.

The communique explained that "The sacred object is a shroud, a veil or a handkerchief commonly used by Jews to cover the face of their dead at the burial’ and also referred to “the visit of Benedict XVI to Manoppello, which he decided upon after reading the book of Paul Badde ":"The Face of God - The Rediscovery of the True Face of Jesus" (english edition by Ignatius Press, San Francisco 2010).

The statement also referred to the latest issue of the American journal “Inside the Vatican", with the image of Manoppello on its cover and containing an article which summarizes the main features of the veil, based on historical and scientific research: The faces of the Shroud of Turin and the cloth of Manoppello are a match; both images are "acheiropoietas " in the sense that they were not made by human hands. The Veil would be dated between the time of the crucifixion of the Lord and his Resurrection.

The Shroud of Turin shows the image of a man with closed eyes and fresh wounds while that on the veil of Manoppello has a face with eyes open and closed wounds. To support these conclusions they make reference also to Church authorities, perhaps alluding to the visits and testimonies of so many Cardinals who in recent years have been to Manoppello.

The statement of the Bishops' Conference was picked up by radio, television and newspapers, including the Manila Times, the oldest English language newspaper in the Philippines. Catholic Radio Veritas of the Philippines followed the mission each day but it was especially television, both local and national to broadcast during news programs explanations of the Holy Face, reaching millions of people (of the 100 million inhabitants of the Philippines an estimated 70 million are Catholic).

The faithful, who were waiting for this event, flocked and packed all the churches chosen. Very great was the manifestation of faith expressed by the faithful who participated joyfully in mass. The priests who agreed to host the image of the Holy Face were numerous and many were disappointed that their church had not been included among those chosen.

Bishops became personally involved and presided over the celebrations. Among them were: Bishop Ramon Arguelles, Bishop Emilio Marquez, Bishop Roberto Mallari, Bishop Florentino Cinense, Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara.

Among the cities visited were Manila, Makati, Quezon City, Lipa, Batangas, Quiapo, and Mandaluyong City.

Here are some links to videos on the internet to get an idea of the mission carried out.
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