Santa Cruz Parish in Manila is a buzz with excitement as it celebrates the annual Feast of Nuestra Señora Del Pilar, the beloved patron of this vibrant community. The grand festivities commenced with the traditional “Dalaw ni Maria sa mga Barangay,” a 13-night preparation that began on September 22.
During this extraordinary period, a remarkable event known as the “Dalaw” takes place. The “Callejera” image of the Blessed Mother graces each of the 13 Barangays, spending a full 24 hours with her devoted children. “Callejera” aptly refers to someone who spends significant time on the streets, and this is precisely what Nuestra Señora Del Pilar does, visiting one barangay after another to pray with and celebrate the Eucharist with her cherished children. She reminds them to be unwavering in their mission of sharing the Good News and caring for one another, just as she did for St. James in Zaragoza, Spain.
Following the “Dalaw sa Barangay,” the Novena Misa unfolds, a poignant nine-day period of reflection on the theme of “Nuestra Señora del Pilar, Kalakbay ng SimbahangNagbabahagi at Kumakalinga.” The parish is grateful for the profound insights shared by nine notable priests who delivered inspiring homilies on the theme. These revered priests include Fr. Nono Alfonso of the Jesuits, Fr. Jason Laguerta, the RCAM Episcopal Vicar for the Traslacion Road Map, Fr. Ben Somalillo, parish vicar of Santa Cruz Parish, Fr. Dave Conception of the Sto. Nino de la Paz Mission Station at Greenhills, Fr. Jun Sison, the Director for Scholastics of the Blessed Sacrament Congregation, Fr. Rico Garcia, Rector of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Minor Seminary, Msgr. Reggie Malicdem, the Vicar General and Vice Moderator Curiae of RCAM, Fr. Carmelo “Jek” Arada, Vice Chancellor of RCAM, and Fr. Jun Sescon, Episcopal Vicar for Manila and rector of the Minor Basilica of Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno.
The pinnacle of the festivities was the Fiesta Solemn Mass held on October 15, presided by Fr. Rudsend Paragas, the Rector of the Archdiocesan Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament and Parish Priest of Santa Cruz Parish. The celebrations culminated with a grand procession featuring the original image of the Blessed Mother, which meandered through the third district of Manila, captivating the hearts of the faithful and onlookers alike.
The ancient image of Nuestra Señora Del Pilar holds a special place in the hearts of the parishioners. A precious gift from the Society of Jesus to the Parish of Santa Cruz, it was brought here from Saragoza, Spain, during the 18th century. By 1743, a canonically erected Cofradia de la Nuestra Señora Del Pilar was known to exist, dedicated to serving the devoted followers of the Blessed Mother.
Santa Cruz Church has long been renowned for its festive fiestas and grand processions honoring Nuestra Señora Del Pilar. Each year, the community comes together to celebrate their unwavering faith and devotion to the patroness, a tradition that strengthens the bonds of the parish and instills a profound sense of unity among its people.
The Feast of Nuestra Señora Del Pilar in Santa Cruz Parish is not merely a religious event; it is a vibrant and enduring expression of faith, love, and community spirit. As the parishioners continue to celebrate this time-honored tradition, they are reminded of the enduring message of unity, love, and faith passed down through generations, making it a cherished occasion for the people of Santa Cruz Parish. (Dante Chua / Tuesber Guevara/SOCOM-Sta. Cruz Parish | Photo by Tuesber Guevara | Photogallery)