By Fr. Tirso Villaverde
St. MARGARET PARISH
For those who are not regular visitors to the parish of St. Margaret Mary, there is a new arrival to our parish community. It is none other than the patroness of our parish, St. Margaret Mary, in a new statue that was 100% made in the Philippines. I was in the Philippines in February tending to her transport to the parish which is why I was unable to make the deadline for the March article. Now, the parish has warmly welcomed this new image of our patron with excitement and enthusiasm.
For those who may not know the woman St. Margaret Mary, let me introduce you to her.
right pic: Fr. Tirso in February helped transport the 100% made in the Philippines statue of St. Margaret Mary which now stands in his parish in Chicago.
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was born in 1647 in France. She entered the convent in the year 1671 as a member of the Visitation Order of sisters in Paray-le-Monial, a town in the center of France. She was described as humble, simple, and patient. Starting on December 27th, 1674 after three years as a nun, St. Margaret Mary began to receive visits from Jesus himself who revealed to her his own Sacred Heart. In the course of just over a year, St. Margaret Mary was visited by Jesus several times at various times. In those visits, Jesus entrusted St. Margaret Mary with a specific mission. It would be her task to make known to all of humanity his love for all men and women. As Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary, she saw an image of Jesus’ human heart which was to be a symbol of his immense love for the human race created by God and redeemed by his own death.
It was from the revelations to St. Margaret Mary that we now have the famous image of Jesus’ Sacred Heart—a human heart crowned with thorns and wounded on the side, a flame above the heart oftentimes with a cross above the flames. (article continued below)
Parishioners of St. Catherine Laboure in Glenview, IL attend the blessing of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Shrine by Fr. Maina Waithaka (5th fr. L) on March 1. (Fr. l-r) Josie de la Cruz, Efren Estrella, Zeny de Guzman, Kenneth Chua, Norma Loleng, Felix Bayona, Hilda Sy, Amy Estrella, Marietta Maglaya, Zenith Chua, Ken Alwahab, Rose Alfon, Irma Zarzuela, Maria Alwahab, Lolit & Kit Mendoza, Dom Maglaya, Susan Rosal, Edna Jaboni, Mercy Manansala, Lily Perrine, Reggie Spears , Leticia Caridad, Jean Jumawan and Beverly Belzer. (Photo by Ben Alfon)
St. Catherine Laboure Catholic Church in Glenview, IL is in the process of building the first Immaculate Heart of Mary Shrine in North America on their church grounds. The official consecration of the shrine will take place on Saturday, June 24. This event coincides with Our Lady of Fatima’s 100th Anniversary, the Marian apparition to three Portuguese children.
Through the generous donations of St. Catherine Laboure Asian American Association, parishioners and friends, they have raised more than 75% of the funding for construction in three years. St. Catherine welcomes donations. For those who wish to donate, call the parish at 847-729-1414 or email Ken at SCL3535@comcast.net. For those interested in attending the shrine’s June 24 consecration, St. Catherine Laboure Parish is at 3535 Thornwood Ave., Glenview, IL 60026.
"...St. Margaret Mary welcomes its patron"
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Acts of reparation
Jesus came to St. Margaret Mary saddened and distressed that so many people still were not convinced of God’s tremendous love for them. Too many people had turned away from God’s love and, as a result, they became coldhearted and ungrateful for the graces God has showered upon all humankind. St. Margaret Mary was chosen to be the first to begin an act of devotion to the Sacred Heart to implore God’s mercy for so many offenses committed against him.
Oftentimes, these transgressions were perpetrated by those who professed to be God’s followers which saddened the Sacred Heart of Jesus even more. St. Margaret Mary was to spread an act of devotion by which believers would not only make up for offenses committed by the human race but also grow in their own love for Jesus.
As a result, the Church received through her the devotion to the Sacred Heart whereby the faithful are called to receive Holy Communion on the First Friday of every month, spend an hour of prayer on Thursday evenings to commemorate Jesus’ agony in the garden, and perform acts of reparation.
In those acts of reparation, believers were to make up for the sins and shortcomings of others may have committed either out of ignorance or disobedience. In this way, they were to model for others the love of Jesus that seeks to reconcile rather than to condemn. Those devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus model as well the self-sacrifice of Jesus who stood in the place of one condemned so that humanity would not have to suffer the consequences of their sinfulness.
This was the mission entrusted to St. Margaret Mary. It was not to be an easy task because she was met with a great deal of resistance much of which coming from her own sisters in the convent. Theologians were called in to attest to the validity of her “visions” but all of them attempted to denounce her has having delusions or suffering from a lack of nutrition. It was only when her confessor—a Jesuit priest named St. Claude de la Colombiere—came to her defense that St. Margaret Mary was given credible hearing. The apparitions were declared valid and the devotion to the Sacred Heart began.
St. Margaret Mary’s story is so important that I felt that the parish named after her deserved a worthy image of its patroness. When I first arrived at the parish, the only image of her in the church was in one of the stained glass windows which was too high up for anyone really to notice or even venerate. The parish now has a new image of its patron made possible by the contribution of a donor who remains anonymous per request.
She is made out of wood from the santol tree and was carved by artisans in Pampanga. Her dress was made by Bordado A Mano Filipinas based out of Bocaue, Bulacan. She stands at four feet tall. If the base upon which she stands is included as well as her halo, St. Margaret Mary is almost six feet tall. It took a great deal of creativity to package her for transport on the plane as well as payment of extra fees but, by her prayers, she arrived safely and is now being venerated by parishioners and visitors to St. Margaret Mary Parish.
She holds in her hands an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus not only as a reminder of Jesus’ visits to her but also as a statement of the divine love that comes to all of humankind. Her face is humble and gentle as a way to invite people to know the love that God has for them. She will eventually be given a permanent place of honor in the church and be used in the celebration of her feast day which is October 16th. If anyone would like to visit her, you are most welcomed to come to St. Margaret Mary Parish at any time. She has inspired parishioners to be aware of God’s love for them. May St. Margaret Mary do the same for anyone who requests for her prayers.
The Philippine-American College of Clergy (PACC) invites the community to attend their Annual Joint Good Friday Worship Service and Easter Sunrise Service. Good Friday Worship Service is on April 14 at 1:00 p.m. at Philippine-American Ecumenical Church-United Church of Christ (PAEC-UCC), 3533 N. Albany Avenue, Chicago, IL 60618. Host Pastor is Bishop Eliezer Pascua, 773-583-4448.
Hospitality refreshments following the service will be provided by the PAEC-UCC. Easter Sunrise Service is on Sunday, April 16 at 6:00 a.m. at the Mont Clare United Church of Christ, 6935 W. Medill Chicago, IL 60707. Host Pastor is Rev. Maxwell Codillo 773-889-8174. An Easter breakfast is provided by members of Mont Clare United Church of Christ. For questions call Rev. Cerna Castro Rand, president of the (PACC) at 847-439-0668.