A lot of you must have already heard of Monasterio de Tarlac, where the True Relic of the Cross of Jesus Christ is housed within a very small chapel in the mountains of San Jose, Tarlac. But a new relic, the only one again in all of Asia, now brings pilgrims and devotees to Tarlac.
On February 14, 2014, over two thousand people visited the Municipality of Gerona in Tarlac to witness the blessing of St. Josemaria Escriva Parish, the only parish in Asia dedicated to St. Escriva, founder of the Opus Dei. Opus Dei is an institution of the Catholic Church, with laypeople and secular priests teaching others and everyone willing to open their hearts about the path to holiness.
The church’s Baptistery holds a tooth of St. Escriva, his only relic displayed in all of Asia.
The parish is being considered a Diocesan Shrine because of the many pilgrims and visitors it receives in a month from all over the country. To accommodate travelers who pass by Tarlac in the wee hours of dawn, when the church doors has already been closed, and the elders, pregnant women and handicaps who wish to visit but could not, a Drive-Thru Visit has been constructed.
The Blessed Sacrament, which is always exposed at the altar, rests inside a tabernacle with both sides opened. All the visitors have to do is drive to the back of the church and stop right where they could view the tabernacle and pray. During the night, sensors activate lights at the altar as soon as a vehicle is detected.
The inside of the church is a must see. Local artists from Bicol and Concepcion, Tarlac hand-painted the walls, ceilings, and the framed religious arts.
I have been told that a certain miracle has already happened here, though the parish secretary didn’t want to disclose anything about it yet since the matter is still under investigation. But as I sat in the front line of the pews, I began to feel like this really is one place where people can come and visit to find the path to the Lord. I made three wishes again.
I was able to meet the local artist from Concepcion, Tarlac, Mr. Richie Palatao. He was currently painting the Ermita, the local term for a very small chapel, when my media partner, Sir Mykie, and I came to visit.
I wasn’t able to take a picture of the church’s facade due to on-going construction, but I am expecting myself to really return. After all, St. Josemaria Escriva Parish is just along the national highway in Magaspac, Gerona, Tarlac – 15 minutes away from Tarlac City by any north-bound bus and by private vehicle.
Construction of this church started in 2010. Through the efforts of the community, members of the Opus Dei and many benefactors, it became one place worth visiting. Reverend Father Alex Bautista, who was an architect long before he became a priest, designed it. I was also told that he knows everything there is about this church. I intend to visit him soon.
So if you ever pass by the Province of Tarlac, pay the church a visit! Who knows, you may find a miracle of your own there. I know I did. See you in TARLAC! And keep dreaming with me. 🙂