Daily Cross, Daily Hope
Rev. John Phalen, C.S.C.
In the last century more than twice as many natural disasters occurred in the Philippines than anywhere else in the world. Catastrophes are common in this archipelago of 7,000 islands. After the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991, one Church, San Guillermo, was literally half full of the volcanic dust, which hardened into what looked like a new cement floor.
The irrepressible Filipinos dug down, raised up the altar, and installed new pews. The window in the choir loft was converted to a door and the Filipinos continued to pray as always – except now they were in the upper half of the original Church. What faith, strengthened by the cross! What resilience!
The great resilience and hope of the Filipino people finds its source in their deep love for Our Lady “who knew grief and was a Lady of Sorrows.” With every new calamity, the Filipinos renew their confidence in “Mama Mary” and their complete dependence upon God.
Not surprisingly then, the Filipinos quickly came to love the “Rosary priest,” Servant of God, Fr. Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., who held Rosary rallies for families that were attended by millions. He quickly came to love them as well, returning frequently to the Philippines during his life and ministry.
Today Family Rosary Crusade units are still common in Filipino parishes. Essentially Rosary prayer groups, these parish groups reach out in service to the needy, motivated by their prayer and encouraged by Family Rosary television programs.
For years, this presence and mission of Holy Cross in the Philippines was sustained by dedicated lay collaborators, but in recent years Holy Cross religious have returned to Manila to receive training at pastoral institutes and to earn higher degrees at the country’s excellent Catholic universities. As a sign of this growing commitment, the first religious house was established in the hopes of consolidating the Holy Cross charism throughout the country so that together with Our Lady, we may continue to teach “much of this daily cross and its daily hope.”