Holy Mission in Iloilo 2024

Ave Maria!

Last June 2, 2024 – June 9, 2024, the IVE Seminarians in the Philippines accompanied by the sisters from the SSVM Juniorate made the first Popular Mission outside the Luzon Islands- This year the missionary team conquered Iloilo province in the town of Igbaras in the Westeern Visayas Region. The mission center was stationed in the Day Care Center of a small barangay called Corucuan.

The missionaries were welcomed by a small group of old ladies waiting for the Holy Mass since it was announced to them beforehand that a group of missionaries will come to visit their Barangay. There were also small children there, to whom the missionaries started to have small talks as they invited them for the week-long activities. The people started to come despite of the intimidating rain and one could draw a feeling of expectation on the part of the people on what their visitors from Batangas will do. The send-off Mass started and was in the Filipino language. It was presided by Rev. Fr. Diego Ibarra, IVE. The homily was given by Rev. Jerwin Ada, IVE who insisted on the missionary nature of the Catholic Church and the responsibility of each one to heed the missionary mandate given by Christ at his Ascension.

The next day, the missionaries started with a morning rosary procession and the adoration of the Eucharist, and after the breakfast, the week-long visitation of houses started. They invited the people for the Holy Mission activities, give short catechisms on the Christian Prayer and family life, and blessing their houses and giving off holy cards and rosaries as a remembrance and an invitation to daily prayer. It is just so pleasing to remark how people were so happy to have their house visited and the how the nearby house eagerly awaits. The common expression of the people was: “Sorry our house is a little messy and is indeed very small.” Yes, indeed most of the houses in the barangay are small and are made of light materials, some of them situated in the high hills and in the slopes of the mountains, yet not in any house we found a child without the Sacrament of Baptism- something that is not common in the cities where houses were strongly built, furnished with every kind of furniture but the children lacking this Sacrament. On the afternoons, there were Children and Youth Oratories. As early as the first meeting the children learned the songs and chants, we usually used in our oratories, one of which is the yell which goes on the lines like: “The one who will not jump, does not belong to Mary” which was translated in Filipino and Hiligaynon- the regional dialect. The children enjoyed the games prepared by the religious and the lives of the saints were also lectured to them. The young people in attendance were taught basic Catholic apologetics and as music lovers, the girls enjoyed playing instruments with the SSVM sisters and the boys played good sports with the brothers. There were also classes for those who wanted to receive the First Holy Communion. Fr. Diego Ibarra goes to visit and give anointing to the sick every afternoon accompanied by the Barangay Captain himself, most of these people live in the remote areas of the Barangay and they were so happy to see a priest visiting them and giving them the sacraments. There is an afternoon rosary procession recited in the Hiligaynon dialect followed by the Holy Mass which was preceded by the traditional doctrinal cartridge and controversies. Before the post- communion prayer, the children offered flowers to Our Lady accompanied by Marian Hymns. It is interesting to note that the children themselves went to the bushes of their Barangay to pick out some beautiful wild flowers to offer Our Lady. The religious who accompanied them were so amazed on how the children fearlessly climbed the sloppy hills just to get these flowers at the end of the week the children almost leave the bushes flowerless since they were very happy to collect them all and give it to Our Lady. After the Holy Mass, there held the traditional fogon and divague held at the open stage near the chapel in the mission area that made the people laugh before going back to their homes. The Barangay Council learning this, our particular style, decided to prepare some soup for the people to enjoy after watching the show. As the days pass by, the people grew numerous that brought joy and additional energy for the missionaries. This routine were kept during the whole week.

The Wednesday of the mission was dedicated to the children. the religious in charge of the children’s oratory prepared an obstacle race for the children dividing them into three teams. The children were very happy to receive a lot of candies and prizes. There were so many that some kids cannot figure out how to keep all of them since the religious forgot to bring bags for them. The children were given a special blessing during the Holy Mass.

On the 6th of June, Thursday, the youth oratory went for an outing and the missionaries prepared for the Solemn Corpus Christi Procession, but it rained very hard during the scheduled time and so it was decided to move the Corpus Christi procession on the next day. The fogon and the divague were also cancelled because of the heavy rain. After the Holy Mass the people savored the soup prepared by the barangay officials while the religious took advantage to talk to the people and do some apostolate. Raining though it was the children still happily sang some of the chants they learned especially shouting in Filipino “ Di masaya, Di kay Maria” meaning “Those who are not happy does not belong to Mary.”

The next day June 7th was the august Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Children Oratory went to the town plaza to play. The religious re arranged the things for Corpus Christi Procession and the procession of the Sacred Heart image which will be enthroned during the Holy Mass. The beautiful procession was attended by many people of the barangay. The Eucharistic Lord was preceded by his most loved and venerated image, the Sacred Heart. It is as if He summons the people to come to Him and take refuge to His Sacred Heart truly present in the Eucharist. The procession was accompanied by Eucharistic hymns and the Eucharistic Dialogue. At the Holy Mass the Barangay Council consecrated Barangay Corucuan to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Holy Mass was graced with the presence of the Municipal Mayor himself who witnessed the solemn consecration of the Barangay.

June 8th, Saturday, the afternoon missionary activities were held at “Bukid Sang Kaluoy” or the Mercy Hill. A chapel dedicated to the Divine Mercy was situated on this hill and is a famous spiritual destination in the barangay. After the children and youth oratories, the Rosary procession was held. In the middle of the procession, the brothers acted as Saints Peter and Paul and initiated the traditional burning of the devil a sign of the barangay’s rejection of Satan’s pomps and works. More than 200 people were in attendance. At the Holy Mass, the Miraculous Medal were given to the people who were so jubilant in receiving them. The Philip Neri Team of the mission prepared a special divague in order to educate the people to get rid of the lucky charms and talismans.

June 9th -the last day of the mission. Everything was done according to the schedule of the day. The children who were going to receive the first communion had their confessions heard. During the Holy Mass two children received Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time. The Holy Mission Cross was blessed as a remembrance of that grace-filled week that is unforgettable for the people of the Barangay and for the missionaries as well. During the final fogon, the brothers composed a song of thanksgiving to the people titled “God Bless Corucuan” in the tune of Country Roads. The brothers in charge of the oratories and Mother Maria Laetitia Crucis gave a farewell message to the people. All of them stressed the need for perseverance in the life of grace.

Monday morning, June 10, Fr. Diego celebrated the Holy Mass for the day for the religious. The people knowing that the missionaries will be leaving, attended the Holy Mass so as to bid the farewell to the missionaries. There were tears on most of the people especially on the kids. Most of them expects to see us next year and said that they will pray for it

“Why in Corucuan? Iloilo is very big and indeed Igbaras. There are a lot of other places, but why Corucuan?” This is a question from one old lady which she addressed to some of the brother missionaries during the Missionary Send Off Mass to which the brother replied: “Because God chose this place. He wanted to bestow graces to this barangay and to the people herein.”

At the end of the mission everything was very clear. What we cited in this little chronicle is just a small part of what the experience was and it is something that no words can adequately express. For sure, each of the missionaries have different things that they can highlight if they want to, things through which they learned something new or through which they see God’s providential hand moving in this or that way. It is also a fact to admit that there are fruits and circumstances in the spiritual realm that are only known to God.

We commend the fruits of this remarkable Holy Mission to the hands of Our Lady

IVE Seminarians in the Philippines


You can check the photos and the video highlights here:

Photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=iveseminaryPH&set=a.453244167445518

Video of the Mission Highlights: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2751453458337751