’24/7 parish’ launched in Tarlac

’24/7 parish’ launched in Tarlac
The faithful attend the launching of the first “24/7 parish” in Tarlac. TIFFANY PEREZ LANSANGAN

TARLAC – As a spiritual legacy for the centenary year of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima and to honor its patroness, Mary as the Sorrowful Mother, a parish community in Dolores, Capas, Tarlac, is committing to have the parish church open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“We wish to embrace a spirituality of sharing the sorrows and joys of Mary by being a prayerful and sacrificing community and thereby, as it were, ‘striving to dry the tears of our Mother’,” explained Fr. Melvin Castro, pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish.

According to the priest, inspiration for the move came during the parish’s Marian pilgrimage to Fatima, Portugal in May 2017 to mark 100 years after Our Lady’s apparitions there. “…(W)e visited Fatima and other sites where Our Lady, and even the Most Holy Trinity, appeared to Sister Lucia,” said Castro.

“While in those places,” he recalled, “I prayed fervently to Our Lady and asked her what she wants me to do for ger and her Son in my first parish assignment. Then the inspiration came: ‘to make reparation for sins’.”

‘Spiritual stop-over’

Since the parish church is located along McArthur Highway where hundreds of vehicles pass day and night, he said he decided to follow through with an original idea of Fr. Alex Bautista who erected an expiatory chapel – “a place for prayer and Confessions” – along the highway in Gerona, Tarlac.

“And since McArthur Highway is lined-up with many fast-food chains for travellers, I thought of our parish church to be a ‘spiritual stop-over’ for those who hunger and thirst for God,” explained Castro.

After bringing up the idea with the Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) and mentioning it in his homilies in the parish church and during the barangay chapel Masses, the priest said parishioners were able to understand the inspiration behind it. “I then wrote our bishop, the Most Rev. Enrique V. Macaraeg, D.D., and he gave his approval to our proposal,” the parish priest recounted.

To comfort and console

According to Castro, the parish also petitioned the prelate to change the name of the parish from “Our Lady of Sorrows” to “Mater Dolorosa” to solve the confusion of having two parishes in the diocese named “Our Lady of Sorrows” that bear the same address “Barangay Dolores,” one in Tarlac City and another in Capas.

“But, above all, we wish to give emphasis on Mary being the Mother who was sorrowful rather than simply being the Lady full of sorrows,” he said.

Castro added that the parish church houses a replica of the Black Nazarene, a gift from the Quiapo Basilica, and the image of the parish’s patroness the Mater Dolorosa.  “…And like St. Francisco of Fatima, we would like to comfort and console Our Lord and Our Lady,” said Castro.

The “24-hour church” was launched Oct. 31 during the 5:00 p.m. Holy Mass, in time to culminate the month of the Holy Rosary and to render “Halloween” its genuine meaning as “All Hallows’ Eve”. CBCPNews