by Julie Anne Loong, Sta. Remedios Parish Youth Minister
SAIPAN–While the people of Saipan were informed that the island was on Condition 2 in preparation for the arrival of Typhoon Bualoi, the Parish of Nuestra Señora Bithen de los Remedios celebrated their patronal fiesta. The fiesta was celebrated on October 20, 2019. The church was a full house, and in every pew were seated parishioners not only from the village of Tanapag but from the neighboring villages, too. The main presider was Fray Leo Neil Bullos, OAR; concelebrated with Fray Albert Pellazar, OAR; and Fray Jayferson Baldelovar, OAR; along with four of the diocese’s deacons: Deacon Estanislao Benavente, Deacon Jeffrey Camacho, Deacon Thomas Schweiger, and Deacon Antonio Yarobwemal.
Though the procession had to be cut short due to the hazardous weather, the attendees remained in high spirits. After walking through parts of the village while singing hymns and praying the rosary, the people gathered once more inside the church to venerate Our Lady. Then, across the street and next to the shoreline of Tanapag Beach, over a dozen dishes of mouth-watering, both healthy and calorie-full, fiesta-themed food were served. The meal was paired with performances by cultural dance groups and singers on par with those at the hotel live dinner shows. It was a day well spent without worrying about the incoming storm, and instead, was full of happiness and laughter. Despite it being a mouthful to say, everyone took a deep breath before exclaiming, “Biba Nuestra Señora Bithen de los Remedios!”
Aside from the memorable and beautiful fiesta celebration, the people of the parish had something, or rather someone else, to be excited about. Last Sunday was the installation of Fray Jayferson, OAR, as the new Parish Administrator. Fray Jayferson arrived on the island on Wednesday, October 16 from the Philippines. Being that he had only been here for four days and was already celebrating the parish’s fiesta, he had some great things to say about it and his new assignment. “I was very surprised with this fiesta because it is so different from the way we celebrate fiestas in the Philippines. I was so amazed by the celebration. The way people celebrate and feast as a community is something new for me, and it’s true that we receive the blessing from our patroness Bithen de los Remedios. “I feel so blessed because I never expected that a priest like me would be sent to a beautiful place like Saipan. I give thanks to my superiors for this new challenge to have a ministry and live life to the fullest as a parish administrator. I’m very happy and looking forward to working with the people that I’ll be serving, Bishop Ryan, and my brother Recollects on island. I hope to progress as a priest because it’s been two years since my ordination; therefore, I hope and pray to God that he will make use of me as an instrument to bring Christ to the people. “I pray that I can carry out my work here, not as a single pastor, but with the help of the community. I value the importance of community life because Jesus said, ‘Where two or three are gathered, there I am in their midst.’ I wish to apply that here in our parish. Most of all, even though I’ve only been here for a few days, I feel really at home. I believe that no matter the challenges that come our way, we can overcome them as long as we can share this community life with the ones we serve here on Saipan.”
With Typhoon Bualoi leaving the Marianas unscathed, we thank God and the Blessed Mother for her continuous intercession, not only in allowing us to celebrate the fiesta of a parish dedicated to her, but also in welcoming the newest addition to the clergy of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa. The parish would like to thank all those who donated their time and effort for this year’s fiesta. The year is nearing its end, so let us continue to pray as we get ready for the seasons to come. Our Lady of Good Remedies, pray for us. Biba Nuestra Señora Bithen de los Remedios!
(photos from Diocese of Chalan Kanoa Facebook page)