Malolos diocese clarifies: ‘Lourdes grotto’ not Catholic pilgrimage site

Malolos diocese clarifies: ‘Lourdes grotto’ not Catholic pilgrimage site

The Lourdes Grotto in Brgy. Tungkong Mangga, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. MALOLOS DIOCESAN ARCHIVES

By Sem. Kendrick Ivan Panganiban

April 27, 2019

BULACAN

Despite looking like an exact replica of the Lourdes Basilica in France, the so-called Lourdes Grotto in Brgy. Tungkong Mangga in the city of San Jose del Monte is not a Catholic pilgrimage site.

The Diocese of Malolos recently re-circulated an official letter issued March 22, 2004 by the late Malolos Bishop Jose F. Oliveros clarifying the said grotto’s status.

“It has been a custom of some people to visit the so-called ‘Grotto in San Jose del Monte City’ whenever they come to our diocese this time of the year. We wish to inform you that it is private property and not owned and recognized as a Catholic pilgrim site,” reads the document written by Oliveros, who was then the diocese’s Apostolic Administrator.

Avoiding confusion

“Recently it has reached out attention that Eucharist celebrations and other sacrament are performed at the site. We have verified through their bishops that these priests performing these rites are suspended Catholic priests,” adds the letter.

The Diocese has been explaining the said issue to the faithful for years, especially during Masses.

It added that, “We acknowledge the private entity’s right to open their facilities to the public. However, it behooves us, by virtue of our ecclesiastical and moral obligation, to inform the people of such sorry state of abuse.”

The diocese recently posted its official stance on the Lourdes Grotto on its website and Facebook Page Sandigan – Diocese of Malolos to prevent confusion, especially among Catholics about the true nature of the site.

For years, Catholics and non-Catholic Christians such as Aglipyans, among others, have visited the Lourdes Grotto as a local pilgrimage site.

Efforts for reconciliation

Previously, the Diocese of Malolos had indeed formed relations with the owners of the Lourdes Grotto with the eventual assignment of Catholic priest-chaplains to the site. However, as the private owner’s intentions of not donating the property for valid religious services became clear, the diocese stopped assigning Catholic priests to the site, hence the arrival of non-Catholic ministers.

Though the church’s unofficial status is noted, efforts for reconciliation have not ceased. The Diocese of Malolos remains hopeful that the Lourdes Grotto be recognized as an official pilgrimage site upon its proper turn-over to the diocese. A similar case happened with the Santissima Trinidad Chapel in Barihan, Malolos City, once separated from the diocese in 2001 due to disputes and confusion between local elders and the diocese’s plans to elevate it to a parish. It was eventually returned to the Catholic Church on October 27, 2016 and is now currently a chapel of Santissima Trinidad Parish.