Declaration of National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on December 14

In Photo: The National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on Broadway Avenue in New Manila, Quezon City.

THE National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel will have its solemn declaration on Monday at 9 a.m. The Eucharistic celebration will be presided by Archbishop of Dagupan Socrates Villegas, DD, also the president of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

The CBCP unanimously voted in favor of granting the title “National Shrine” to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Shrine Parish on July 11. After which its dedication to Our Lady of Mount Carmel was held on November 19. The declaration of the national shrine came as the Carmelites worldwide are celebrating the fifth birth centenary of Saint Teresa of Ávila, a Carmelite saint and Doctor of the Church.

The Province of Saint Teresa of Jesus, led by Provincial Superior Rev. Fr. Reynaldo Sotelo Jr., OCD, entrusted the operation and administration of the national shrine to the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Shrine Community, composed of friar-members of the province.

Fr. Joey Maborang, OCD, is the rector/parish priest of the shrine on Broadway Avenue in New Manila, Quezon City.

As a parish, it has been under the Diocese of Cubao, now being led by Bishop Honesto Ongtioco, DD.  The shrine was established as parish on February 17, 1975, by Archbishop of Manila Jaime Sin, DD. Auxiliary Bishop of Manila Juan Velasco, OP, DD, presided over the rite of canonical erection and the installation of its first parish priest, Fr. Paul O’Sullivan, OCD.

The history of the establishment of the shrine dates back to 1950s, when Fr. Mark Horan, a Discalced Carmelite of the Anglo-Irish Province, arrived in the Philippines as Apostolic Visitator to the Carmelite nuns.

At the same time, the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Egidio Vagnozzi, expressed his desire for a Carmelite foundation to be established in the Archdiocese of Manila by the Anglo-Irish friars, Fr. Angelo Madelo, OCD, said in his letter of intention for the declaration of Mount Carmel as national shrine.  The first foundation of the Anglo-Irish Discalced Carmelites in the Philippines was established in the then-Diocese of Jaro by Bishop Jose Ma. Cuenco on July 12, 1953. On October 14 of the same year, the foundation of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in New Manila, Quezon City, was also established. 

The cornerstone of the shrine, was blessed on December 30, 1954, presided over by Apostolic Nuncio Vagnozzi. The blessing was graced by then-Archbishop of Manila Rufino Santos, DD; then-Bishop of the Prelature of Infanta Patrick Shanley, OCD, DD; now Servant of God Marie Eugene of the Child Jesus, OCD, then-Definitor General of the Discalced Carmelites; Very Reverend Father Michael, OCD, of the Anglo-Irish Province; and the Very Reverend Father Thomas, OCD, of the Washington Province, among others.

Most Reverend Teofilo Camomot, OCD, DD, now a Servant of God, blessed the completed portion of the shrine on December 21, 1958, and also celebrated the first Mass.

On July 16, 1964, then-Manila Archbishop Rufino Santos, DD, blessed the finished structure, and celebrated the Mass on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The declaration of Mount Carmel as a national shrine aims to inspire pilgrimage among the faithful, and nourish the spiritual lives of pilgrims and parishioners by “diligent proclamation of the word of God, the suitable promotion of liturgical life, especially the celebration of the Eucharist and of penance, and the cultivation of approved forms of popular piety,” as provided for by the OCD Constitution, especially the Brown Scapular, which has become “ecclesial” and “recommended by the Magisterium throughout the centuries.”

It also aims to develop the shrine as a place of pilgrimage, welcome, quiet and prayer, a place of “frequent friendly conversation with God who we know loves us,” as said by Saint Teresa of Ávila.

It would also further deepen the faith and devotion of the people in Our Lady of Mount Carmel in keeping with the Carmelite tradition.

The Carmelite Constitutions declares: “This special bond with Our Lady influences our whole approach to the pursuit of perfect charity. It pervades our communities and stamps our life of prayer and contemplation, our apostolic zeal and activity, and even the kind of self-denial we practice, with a distinctly Marian character.”

The devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel started in the 12th century, when Latin hermits settled on Mount Carmel, a coastal mountain range in northern Israel, and placed themselves under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

From the very beginning, the liturgy played a central role in the life of the early Carmelite hermits as expressed in the Rule of Life given to them by Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fr. Madelo said.

At the center of their dwelling place on Mount Carmel stood the oratory dedicated in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is, therefore, intimately bound to the history and the identity of the Carmelite Order. Hence, the spirituality of the Carmelite Order is exemplified by its devotion and cult to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In the middle of the 13th century, the Blessed Virgin Mary reportedly appeared to Simon Stock and handed the Brown Scapular to him as an assurance of her protection to the Order that took her as patroness and queen. There is little concrete scientific historical evidence regarding the scapular vision.  However, the Carmelite Order has always held the Brown Scapular of the Blessed Virgin Mary as part of her venerable tradition.

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