MANILA, Philippines - Lorna Gonzales, who celebrates the feast of the Sto. Niño de Providencia on Jan. 27 every year, says the greatest miracle of the Sto. Niño is that her brother Rodrigo ?Boy? Gonzales Jr. is alive, though disabled.
On Good Friday in 1982, Boy, then a medical intern, was struck on the head near the Labor Hospital by what seemed to be a steel bar.
Boy was in a coma for six months after an operation. The neuro-surgeon told Boy?s mother Cora and sister Lorna to bring the patient home as there was nothing more he could do for him.
Back at home, a friend brought the cape of Our Lady of Peñafrancia and put it around Boy. It was then that he woke up.
But he had amnesia for many years. Though he did not recognize his mother, he would have tears in his eyes when somebody called his name.
His sister Lorna began to question God?s mercy, stopped praying and going to Mass. On Jan. 27, 1992, at
10:30 a.m., God showed His mercy and answered Lorna?s challenge for Him to perform a miracle.
The Sto. Niño that Auntie Azon (as Lorna?s mother was called) bought in 1985 in Tayuman was placed in the living room. The family prayed incessantly for Boy. Fr. Noel Adolfo, then a deacon, blessed the image.
Lorna was alone in the house when oil began to ooze from the image. She scooped up the oil and rubbed her brother with it. She did this again and again believing Boy would be healed.
The St. Pius X nuns who live in Philamlife Village were asked to help put things in order. They wiped the floor and later wiped the sick with the towels they used. Healing took place.
A chapel was built next to the house on 65 Pijuan St., BF Resort Village in Las Piñas, which would have been Boy?s clinic. Sick people came and prayed to the miraculous image. Msgr. Josefino Ramirez blessed the chapel in 1992 and dedicated it to the Infant Jesus of Providencia.
In thanksgiving, Auntie Azon and Lorna began to celebrate the anniversary of the miracle on Jan. 27. When Auntie Azon passed away in 1995, Lorna continued the celebration. Devotees donated food.
During the fiesta, packs containing a Rosary, prayer, a tiny bottle of oil and handkerchief are given away. This year, at least 2,500 people came to pray and be anointed with oil by the priests and by the Brothers of the Holy Face.
The fiesta will now be celebrated on the fourth Saturday of January, as suggested by Msgr. Philip Ocol, parish priest of Mary Mother of the Church Parish in Las Piñas.
Lorna believes her brother Boy is alive because of the Sto. Niño. Boy is now aware of his surroundings, recognizes his sister and eats properly.
When I visited the chapel recently, I met the Condesa de Paiva, a Portuguese who lives in Madrid. She was brought there by Marivic Rodriguez who was also healed by the Sto. Niño. The chapel is open Monday-Sunday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Our Lady of Candelaria Parish in Silang, Cavite, celebrated its 413th fiesta Feb. 2. Theme was ?Mary, Model of Obedience to the Word.? Imus Bishop Chito Tagle presided at the concelebrated Mass. Other celebrants were Bishop Emeritus Manuel Sobreviñas; Fr. Tem Lumandas, parish priest; and other priests of the diocese.
Bishop Chito said, ?The Presentation of Jesus by Joseph and Mary at the temple is the realization of the promise of salvation by God to Israel and the world that He will send the Light.?
The next afternoon, devotees of the Nuestra Señora de Candelaria and the Sto. Niño danced on the streets to thank their patroness for blessings and to plead for special intentions. In the caracol were Father Lumandas, and Fathers Adrian Rañola, Benjie Francisco and Von S. Arellano as assistants.
The Parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel of Pulong Buhangin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan, will celebrate today the 100th fiesta of its patroness Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Parishioners will showcase their continued dedication to the Church and the community under the patronage of the Virgin and their other patron, San Sebastian.
The Missionaries of Mary (MOM), a lay Marian community, is holding the Marian Encounter Seminar Module 1: ?Who is Mary?? Feb. 24, 8 a.m., at the San Lorenzo Ruiz Lay Formation Center, 2/F Auditorium, San Carlos Pastoral Formation Complex, Edsa, Guadalupe, Makati City.
For details, call 7438729 (Sister Luz Uzabal) or 2414586 (Sister Cherry T. Pascual). Registration fee is P50.
Petrona Bucad Lim received the Dame of St. Sylvester award on the recommendation of Tuguegarao Archbishop Diosdado Talamayan. It was presented by Papal Nuncio Edward Joseph Adams on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI.
Adam?s Travel will lead pilgrims to eight countries, including Sevilla, Spain, where the most touching Holy Week procession is held. The best known image in the procession is the Nuestra Señora de Macarena that is followed by devotees in penitential robes and hoods. Pilgrims leave March 13 and attend Easter Sunday Mass in Fatima, Portugal, then visit Lourdes, France, for plenary indulgence. Call 5211651 or 5211638.
Congratulations to Bienvenido and Josefina Aguas on their 50th wedding anniversary and to Basty and Betty Roxas Chua on their 40th. This column wishes you God?s blessings.