Bishops remind faithful about grace in prayer at Obando fiesta
Devotees dance in front of a statue of Sta. Clara during a religious festival inside San Pascual Baylon Parish Church in Obando, Bulacan on Sunday, May 19. PAROKYA NI SAN PASCUAL BAYLON – OBANDO CHURCH FACEBOOK PAGE
By Kendrick Ivan Panganiban and Carlo Padilla
May 20, 2019
Thousands of people flocked to Obando Church in Bulacan province to celebrate the country’s only fertility festival on May 17 to 19.
Many couples danced and pray for fetility in the annual festivity at the San Pascual Baylon Parish Church and Diocesan Shrine of Nuestra Señora de la Immaculada Concepcion de Salambao.
In the Masses for the three-day, bishops have preached on the value of grace and intercession that surrounds the outpour of pilgrims going to Obando for the celebration.
Grace in prayer and intercession
Presiding on the Mass of the first day, Iba Bishop Bartolome Santos Jr. reminded the faithful of the power of the Eucharist.
He said, “Whatever we ask from the Lord, whatever we ask through [the intercession of] San Pascual Baylon, let us put the Eucharist first, because this is what is given to us.”
Dedicated to St. Paschal Bailon, the Patron Saint of Eucharistic adorers, Santos mentioned the value of his intercession.
He added, “It is in the Eucharist that God’s grace is given and flows through from the Lord so that whatever [good] we wish from God would be fulfilled.”
On the same day, Military Ordinary Oscar Jaime Florencio also led a Mass where he valued the pilgrims coming from all over the country going to Obando.
He said, “While we live, we will still have our problems with us. That is why it is beautiful to hear now the Lord who rose again [this Easter] to love us.
Focusing on the need for prayer and supplication, he added, “Even if you have big problems with you now: if you see your family abandoning you, if you do not have work, whatever it is, always remember that God loves you.”
Each of the three days was attributed to the three patrons of Obando town: San Pascual Baylon is the titular of the parish and patron of the first day; St. Claire is the original patron of Obando and now secondary patroness of the parish venerated on the second day, and the Nuestra Señora de la Inmaculada Concepcion de Salambao found in the coast of the town in 1763 and is a diocesan shrine.
Known as the “Tatlong Patron”, the devotees venerated the patrons through dance, which is primarily for childbirth among couples who come every year to the church.
Kalookan Bishop Emeritus Deogracias Iñiguez, Jr., in his homily for the second day invited the faithful to “recognize the grace of God through the intercession of St. Claire.”
“My brothers and sisters, I hope you recognize that this child/children given to us by God through St. Claire’s prayers allow us to deepen our faith and to follow him more ardently,” he said.
The “Sayawan sa Obando” has been present in the town as the Spanish Franciscan missionaries Christianized the former pagan practice of “Kasilonawan” or the dancing of sterile women for fertility.
The dance is recognized by the National Commission on Culture and the Arts as the only Philippine ‘fertility fiesta’.