Friday, April 2, 2010

Our First Visita Iglesias as a Family

It was an exciting time for us! I was the most excited, of course. It has been my practice to do Visita Iglesias during Maundy Thursday when I was still single. And I dreamed of sharing this tradition with my future family when I get married. I had been looking forward to this! It’s our first time to do it as a family this year. I was already pregnant and was on bed rest on our first Holy Week as a married couple. Last year, Yanthy was only 5 months old so we decided to forego with the Visita Iglesias. Now that Yanthy is 1 year and 5 months old, we think that he’s big enough to join us and endure the trip to the different churches.

I packed our bag early -- complete with Yanthy’s toiletries and other needs. I brought change of clothes for my husband and me and some small towels. We brought water bottles and biscuits. We also brought with us the carrot shake I made for my husband and banana shake for me and our maid. With our digital camera fully charged, our prayer book and our itinerary in our bag, we were ready to step out into an adventure!

We left the house after lunch around 1:30 pm. It was hot! But it’s okay because we brought our umbrella. I also made sure that we brought Yanthy’s sunglasses and hat. We’re all set to visit the 14 churches in our itinerary. Our plan is to pray one Station of the Cross in every church. All the churches in our list are located in Sucat only. Our goal is to finish all of them in time for the 6 pm Mass of the Last Supper at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish.

We started our Visita Iglesias at El Shaddai’s House of Prayer in Amvel City, Sucat Road. We usually pass by Amvel City whenever we go to SM Sucat but we haven’t visited it. It was our first time yesterday. It was massive. It was shaped like a cross and the altar area was like Noah’s Ark complete with water surrounding it. We took pictures and started with the Stations of the Cross at the chapel behind the altar. Then, off we went to the next church.

Our next stop was at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Quirino Avenue. It’s also our first time to go to this church so we were watchful for the landmarks shared with us by the parish staff when I called up their office to ask for directions. Turn right at a 7-11 store and go straight until you see the church which is in front of St. Paul College, Parañaque. That was easy. Yanthy was already asleep by the time that we reached the church so we put him on the stroller. It looks like an old church, much like the old churches in Old Manila and Binondo. We prayed the second Station of the Cross then we had picture-taking again inside and outside the church.

The next church on our list was St. Joseph Parish in Tambo, Quirino Avenue. I wasn’t able to contact the church’s parish office that’s why we do not know where it is along Quirino Avenue. We just prayed that we were on the right path. God answered our prayer. We didn’t get lost. The church was closed but they provided an area for the Stations of the Cross beside it. We prayed the third Station of the Cross and took pictures outside the church. Yanthy was still asleep as we left for the fourth church in our list.

Our Lady of the Airways Parish was next. The staff from their parish office said that it’s very near Nayong Pilipino. We missed it the first time we passed by the Airport Road. But we saw it eventually when we were near Nayong Pilipino. So we made a U-turn and headed to the church. We realized that we usually pass by the church on our way home whenever we’re coming from Makati or Quezon City via the Airport Road. It was only now that we noticed it. Yanthy was still asleep. We prayed the fourth Station of the Cross and took pictures. Then, Yanthy woke up while we were walking back to our car.

Our fifth church is Mary Queen of the Apostles Parish at San Antonio Valley 6 in Barangay San Isidro. We saw it already during our dry run but we didn’t go inside the church. So, it was also our first time to go inside the church yesterday. We prayed the fifth Station of the Cross with Yanthy since he was already awake. He was so cute trying to imitate us as we genuflected in front of the Station. We had picture-taking; then, we waited outside the church by the grotto while my husband had a confession. We also took pictures of Yanthy praying to Mama Mary at the grotto. Then, we had one last shot before we finally left for the next church.

We went to Our Lady of Unity Parish at United Parañaque Subdivision. It was also part of our dry run last weekend so it was easy for us to go to the church yesterday. The landmark given to us was also hard to miss, Puregold store along Sucat Road. We prayed the sixth Station of the Cross and took pictures.

We’re now on our way to the next three churches that are quite near each other. The first two churches are inside BF Homes while the third is inside Tahanan Village. We went to these churches during our dry run but we didn’t go inside. We simply checked them out so that we would easily find them come our actual Visita Iglesias.

We first went to the Presentation of the Child Jesus Parish. We went to the parking area where the Stations of the Cross were located before we had our picture taken. The mass was already about to start that we didn’t stay very long.

The Stations of the Cross at the next church, Parish of the Resurrection, was also at the parking area and grotto. We prayed the eighth Station of the Cross by the grotto then we took pictures before leaving. We didn’t enter the church anymore. The mass was already going on and we were also in a hurry to finish the Stations of the Cross so we can make it on time for the Holy Mass.

Just like in the last two churches, the Stations of the Cross were also in the garden by the grotto. We prayed the ninth Station of the Cross at the garden then we went inside to pray. They have a nice altar area and stained glass design. As usual, we had picture-taking before leaving for the next church.

We’re now on our way to our tenth church, Our Lady of Grace in Ireneville Subdivision. It was our first time to visit the church. We just know that Ireneville Subdivision was across Shopwise and Max’s Restaurant as told by the parish staff when I called to inquire. So we asked the subdivision’s guard for directions as we entered the gate. The mass was also about to start so we proceeded right away with the tenth Station of the Cross and quickly took pictures. It was already past 5 pm. My husband decided that we go to Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish now so we could make it on time to the Mass of the Last Supper. It was a good decision because we still had time to eat some biscuits in the car while at the parking lot.

The church was already packed by the time we arrived. It was a good thing that we were able to find vacant seats. The mass was quite long because there was a re-enactment of the washing of the feet. It was tempting to finish the remaining Stations of the Cross here and no longer proceed to the last three churches in our list. We were all tired and hungry. So I prayed for grace that God would sustain us. God heard my prayer again. We were recharged during the Holy Mass. We prayed the eleventh Station of the Cross, took a picture and left for the next church. We didn’t take many pictures anymore because this is where we usually attend Holy Mass on Sundays when we do not attend the Kerygma Feast. But this picture is significant for Yanthy. This is the church where Yanthy was baptized. We’re glad that this church was part of our first Visita Iglesias as a family.

We went to the Ascension of our Lord Parish in Goodwill Subdivision next. It was already dark. Thank God for the landmark shared with us by the parish staff, we were able to find it right away. We were also confident to proceed with the Visita Iglesias even though it’s already dark because we went to the last two churches during our dry run while we’re already familiar with the last church on our list. They were already having the vigil when we arrived at the church. The Stations of the Cross were at the garden. We prayed the twelfth Station of the Cross and took some pictures.

The next church was at Fourth Estate Subdivision in front of Manila Memorial Park. We noticed that it’s quite challenging to find a parking space outside the church when we went there during our dry run. But God had been gracious to us when we went there yesterday. We found one right away. The procession of the Blessed Sacrament was going on when we arrived at the church so we waited for it to finish before praying the thirteenth Station of the Cross. We hurriedly took pictures and excitedly left for the last church in our list.

The last church in our Visita Iglesias was San Antonio de Padua Parish. We sometimes attend Holy Mass there that’s why we were already familiar with it. The vigil was also ongoing when we got there. We prayed the last Station of the Cross and the closing prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Then we had picture-taking again outside the church. It was already 9 pm. We were already hungry but we were also very happy! We finished all 14 churches in spite of some challenges. It was truly an adventure for the whole family. And just like in our Christian life, there will always be challenges along the way. We may even be delayed sometimes in achieving our goals. But in the end, if we hold on to God and ask for His help and grace, we would emerge victorious. It was a great privilege to trace Jesus’ footsteps during His passion, death and resurrection in our own simple way. We trust that as we strive to be one with Him in His passion and death, we would also be one with Him when He rises again.

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