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Mar 28th
Home Sections The Daily B.R.E.A.D. Christmas Actually Came Early for Filipinos in Boston
Christmas Actually Came Early for Filipinos in Boston PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 24 December 2007 18:27

The Advent celebration came in form of the San Lorenzo Ruiz statue’s journey from Manaoag town in the Philippines to the city of Malden in Massachusetts. It happened in September this year.



(From left)  Fr. Pascual, Minnie (Festin) and Fred Navato,
as they view the San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila statue.


The Boston Filipino Apostolate (BFA) is blessed because it recently received a statue of San Lorenzo Ruiz. For several years, the BFA members had always venerated the San Lorenzo statue lent by Dr. Lucy Lee. In late August 2007, Dr. Lee said that she could no longer do so. The Boston Filipino Catholics were in a quandary. They did not procure their own icon because they relied solely on Dr. Lucy Lee’s. It was now the time to get one of their own. The San Lorenzo devotees prayed for guidance in resolving the problem.

Editor’s Note: Check out Dr. Minnie Festin-Navato and her group at – the Boston Filipino Community Website.

No one could travel to the Philippines to obtain one in time for the San Lorenzo Feast Day in September. John Manuel, the Filipino Apostolate Liturgical coordinator, approached Gloria Platon. She is the coordinator of the Santo Nino Prayer Group. John asked Gloria if she knew someone in the Philippines who could deliver one to Boston at such short a notice. Gloria has a sister who lives close to the town of Manaoag in the Province of Pangasinan. The town is known for its excellent craftsmen of religious statues. Within 10 days, the San Lorenzo statue arrived on the doorsteps of Gloria’s house. That night, the prayer group of Gloria Platon, Virgie Paragas, Esther Oriel, Paz Mendoza, Minnie and Fred Navato, saw the unwrapped statue for the first time. The statue is that of a San Lorenzo Ruiz praying, with his face looking up to heaven. The icon should inspire the congregation to pray as well. The prayers of the San Lorenzo devotees were heard. Truly, one cannot underestimate the power of prayer.

Now the “M & M” Twin Cities

Manaoag and Malden – “M & M” as the San Lorenzo Ruiz devotees now call the twin cities -- have more in common than just being linked by a Filipino saint. Established in the 1600s, these old places have a similar population of about 53,000. Malden’s area of five square miles resembles Manaoag. The Filipinos in both places have a strong devotion to the Holy Rosary. A Living Rosary precedes the Filipino Mass in Malden. In Manaoag, Filipinos venerate “Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.”

The town of Manaoag is famous for it’s the “Lady of the Most Holy Rosary” shrine and the countless miracles and healing powers attributed to the Virgin Mary.  Located some 200 kilometers (125 miles) from Manila, it is about a five-hour drive with few stops. The Church of the Most Holy Rosary was established 300 years ago; it is older than the churches in Lourdes, Fatima and Guadalupe. The shrine is visited by almost a million visitors during its peak months. It is the town’s biggest tourist attraction. Thus, the town is dubbed the Pilgrimage Center of Northern Philippines. It is known also as the “Antipolo of the North,” which is a town in the Province of Rizal that is famous for its “Virgin of Antipolo.”

Malden is a city just five miles north of Boston. Once the richest city in Massachusetts, it is now economically and ethnically diverse. The city’s population is 20% Asian. Out of a total population of 53,340, a recent census showed that 157 are Filipinos, about 0.3%. There is a regular Filipino Mass held at 12:30 p.m., every second Sunday in the St. Joseph Church in downtown Malden.  Other weekly Filipino Sunday Masses in the Metropolitan Boston are in West Roxbury (first Sunday), Boston College (3rd Sunday) and Quincy (4th Sunday).  Established in 1902, the St. Joseph Church reflects an international and ethnical awareness. Its current pastor, Fr. William Minigan, has welcomed the Filipinos wholeheartedly. He prepared a special place for the San Lorenzo Ruiz statue on the altar.

Pope John II said that the first Filipino Saint is the "most-improbable of saints."San Lorenzo Ruiz was the kind of man who could die for God and religion a thousand times if he had to. On Sept. 29, 1637, Lorenzo Ruiz and his fourteen companions died as martyrs because they refused to renounce their faith, so as to spare their lives. They were hung upside down with their heads inside the well. Their temples were slit open to let blood drip slowly until they died.  Canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 28, 1987, San Lorenzo Ruiz holds the honor of being the first Filipino Saint, the "most-improbable of saints," as Pope John II described him during his canonization ceremony.

To mark the arrival of the San Lorenzo Ruiz Statue, a solemn Tagalog Mass was held at St. Joseph Church on Sept. 9, 2007. The Mass was preceded by a procession that took place in the church ground. The statue brought up the rear of the procession.  Cely Cruz and Paz Mendoza had decorated it earlier with lei of sampaguita flowers. It was on a platform borne by Nards Gutierrez, Peping Valencia, Jose Cruz and Danny Talaid. The attendees prayed the rosary during the procession to show unity in prayer with Christ. The procession ended in the church where the statue was carried to its special place on the altar.

The church was full of devotees. Fr. Celestino Pascual, the spiritual director of the Boston  Filipino Apostolate, was  there to concelebrate the Mass with six other priests. The Malden Filipino Choir, led by pianist Evelyn Dusaban, sang during the Mass. Special prayers to San Lorenzo Ruiz were said. At the end, the lively San Lorenzo Ruiz hymn was joyously sang. After the Mass, there was a reception in the Parish Hall, where food and camaraderie were shared. A participant was heard to say, "I am so glad I am here. I wanted to join in the prayers of the installation ceremony.”

This is just one of many examples of how the religious spirit continues to thrive in the Filipino community in Massachusetts. # # #

Editor’s Note: Check out Dr. Minnie Festin-Navato and her group at www.PinoyAdsCentral.comthe Boston Filipino Community Website. She belongs to the New England Society of Philippine Health Professionals.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 December 2007 02:54

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