From February 16 to February 22, 2020, the 14th Rosa Mystica Medical Mission is taking place in Butuan, in the north of Mindanao, the big island in the south of the Philippines. Located on the Bohol Sea, Butuan is the 4th largest city on the island.
Since 1996 the priests of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X have been serving the small chapel in the Santa Lucia district of Butuan, where the victims of natural disasters have been relocated. This miserable district is itself floodable... But the poor homeless have no choice. Here extreme material poverty is often accompanied by great moral and spiritual distress. And yet, in these fields of misery, Faith has blossomed again!
It is at the request of a faithful Filipino woman, Bernadette, a true apostle of Mary, that a priest will come to celebrate the traditional Mass in this village on Boxing Day 1996. The house on stilts, which was to serve as a chapel that day, threatened to collapse under the weight of the hundred or so faithful! We had to move to the meadows...
Bernadette's parents moved to this neighbourhood after abandoning their submerged farm when a typhoon hit and a business in town was destroyed by fire. To provide for her family, Bernadette dropped out of school and found a job as a family helper in Manila. Very pious and feeling isolated in this immense city, she prays to heaven to allow her to meet the Catholic faithful. It was then that she received a letter from a stranger who told her about the crisis in the Church and invited her to join a group of Catholic faithful. After reflection, she turned to them and joined their struggle for the return of the traditional Mass in the Philippines, around Father Manuel Pinon, a courageous Dominican who celebrated the traditional Mass in the Church of Santo Domingo until it was banned by Cardinal Jaime Sin, Archbishop of Manila from 1974 to 2003. Bernadette was one of the faithful who attended the first Mass of the Fraternity of St. Pius X in the Philippines.
Later, she emigrated to Hong Kong for a better-paid job as a domestic servant. She continued her apostolate there. She organized a Rosary at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception where many Filipino employees were gathered. She learned that priests of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X regularly came to say Mass in a small private house; she went there and took the members of her Rosary group with her: it was then necessary to move to a larger and more accessible Mass place!
When Father Marc Vernoy visited her, she asked him if he could one day visit his village of Santa Lucia and celebrate Mass there for his family and neighbors. So he went there on December 26, 1996. After a long "standard" missionary journey - 16 hours by bus over very uneven roads, crossing a river teeming with crocodiles in a boat, without a landing stage where you can land by jumping into the swamps to reach the bank in a hurry, and finally a muddy track to the village - Father Vernoy discovered a pretty house on stilts converted into a chapel. But, trembling under the weight of the many faithful, the chapel on stilts is quickly evacuated!
Bernadette continued to support the apostolate in her village by sending catechism cassettes that she recorded herself, books and brochures, and by taking from her meagre income to build a catechism room. A house will be transformed into a chapel. And, six years after that first Mass, the priests will go there three times a year. Today, thanks to the missionary zeal of the priests of the Society of Saint Pius X and the catechists (including a young man who left his studies to devote himself to it) the apostolate continues.
It is in this village that the Rosa Mystica mission will carry out its activity in the coming days, hoping to bring some relief to the miseries of these poor among the poor, while the priests will bring them the Hope of Jesus Christ.
The volunteers are counting on your prayers so that the Mission may take place in the best conditions and may, thanks to the charity of all, lead souls to the Good God. You can also help the Mission by making a donation. This work relies only on the generosity of its friends and benefactors.