By Deedee M. Siytangco
My soul is awakened, my spirit is soaring and carried aloft on the wings of the breeze. It’s a new day!Anne Bronte
Before proceeding, may we greet the Missionaries of Mary Mother of the Poor (MMMP) established by the Rev. Antonio Palang SVD, DD. Palang was the Apostolic Vicar of San Jose Mindoro. It was a public association of the Christian faithful in view of becoming a clerical society of apostolic life in the area.
The first servant leader and founder was healer Fr. Fernando Suarez, who was under Palang’s protection. After Fr. Suarez died, the new Servant general is Fr. Jeff Shannon. The MMMP has its own priests, deacons, seminarians, scholars, affiliates, and benefactors.
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The most ardent defender of the authenticity of the apparitions in Lipa of the Lady Mediatrix of All Grace, Fr. Pio Acion, sent us his recollections when Arch. Angel Lagdameo, bishop emeritus of Jaro, Iloilo and he, together with then Arch. Jose Vidal met. Lagdameo was due to visit visionary Sr. Teresing Castillo then.
He recalls hearing good things about Lagdameo, the 12th Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Jaro, and a friend of Venerable Alfredo Obiviar. The good archbishop and Fr. Pio had once met at the CBCP Catholic Religious Store with Dra. Hilda Alava and Dra. Ces Galang. In that brief meeting Lagdameo told Fr. Pio that he was on his way to Sr. Teresita Castillo, and said that he usually pays her a visit whenever he was in Manila.
Fr. Pio, in return, told Lagdameo about how he was ministering to Sr. Teresing as her confessor, introduced by Fr. Dave Clay and about his newly found devotion to the Mediatrix. “He [Arch. Lagdameo] was so happy about our meeting. For me, it was a meaningful encounter. It taught me the value of being listened to in my own life, especially with my journey with Teresita and devotion to Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace,” intimates Fr. Pio, adding, “He gave me the right answer to my questions about Teresing and the Mediatrix. Arch. Lagdameo gave me something more important than rules to live by—his devotion to Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace.”
“He [Arch. Lagdameo] was so happy about our meeting. He listened to my story in that very short span of time. For me, it was a meaningful encounter. It taught me the value of being listened to in my own life, especially with my journey with Teresita and devotion to Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace,” intimates Fr. Pio, adding, “He gave me the right answer to my questions about Teresing and the Mediatrix. Arch. Lagdameo gave me something more important than rules to live by—his devotion to Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace.”
The experience with the archbishop strengthened Fr Pio’s faith in local church officials. “I think an institution or system or an authority that fails to listen fails to last in the long run. Like his friend the Venerable Alfredo Obviar, Arch. Lagdameo is a father who knows how to listen and ready to help anyone discover whether the path to God is either still before me to be seized or yet behind me, prodding me on,” he says.
Fr. Pio was also greatly inspired by Mother Mary Aimee of Jesus, O.C.D. former prioress of the Lipa Carmel. She wrote on November 3,1994:
“In 1976, we had our community retreat with Bishop Angel Lagdameo. At the end of this retreat Cardinal Ricardo Vidal who was then the archbishop of Lipa came to our Carmel to fetch Bishop Lagdameo. Both of them entered our enclosure. In the course of our talk, I asked about what Bishop Obviar, who back then was up for beatification, thought about the apparition of Our Lady here in Lipa. Immediately Bishop Lagdameo said that Bishop Obviar kept saying, ‘Vindicate Our Lady, vindicate Our Lady.’”
This declaration by the dying Bishop Obviar was Fr. Pio’s call to arms in his quest for the Mediatrix’s authentication.
The path for Fr. Pio, who turned 48 last week, has been rugged and hard, leading to his being stripped of his priestly right to say mass in public for six years. This Sunday, we hear from Justice Harriet Demetriou, his lawyer about his vindication.
Recently the statue of Mary, Mother of All Grace has been shedding a sweet scent and oil. Fr. Pio is grateful for this phenomenon and thinks of it as a way The Mother shows her appreciation.