2020 Marian Pilgrimage
Kaohsiung, TAIWAN—The month of October is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary specifically to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. Hence, to manifest their deep devotion to the Mother of God, forty parishioners of St. Joseph Parish (聖若瑟堂） and Queen of Victory Parish （勝利之后堂）, both in Xiaogang District, Kaohsiung City （高雄市，小港區）participated in a two days weekend pilgrimage to the Catholic Sanctuary of Our Lady of Wufongci (天主 教五峰旗聖母朝聖地) in Yilan County (宜蘭縣) on October 24 to 25. Fray Joel Dequilla, OAR, the Parish priest of the aforesaid Churches accompanied the pilgrims, who departed from Kaohsiung City at around 7 in the morning of October 24. On the way to the final destination, the group visited the Carmelite Monastery of nuns （加爾默羅聖母聖衣隱修院） in Hsinchu County (新竹縣) to pray and talk briefly with the nuns. Soon after, the pilgrims went to Mount Carmel Parish （加爾默羅聖母堂）, also in Hsinchu to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and eat lunch. Fr. James Yeh, OCD (葉元良神父) concelebrated with Fray Dequilla during the Mass and delivered a mirthful but inspiring homily to the pilgrims.
Having been feed in soul and body, the group continued its journey towards the pilgrimage site and arrived there 15 minutes past 7 in the evening. The RVM Sisters (Religious of the Virgin Mary) who are currently managing the Catholic Sanctuary of Our Lady of Wufongci warmly welcomed the pilgrims to the place. An hour after everyone has rested and settled down, the pilgrims gathered inside the Church where a short liturgy of the Word was held. Then, the group made a human rosary formation at the façade of the Church. Coincidentally, a group of Filipinos (Overseas Filipino Workers) from St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Nantze, Kaohsiung city were also present at the same pilgrimage site. Hence, they joined the rosary formation bearing candles in their hands. Interestingly, the participants spoke different languages and dialects. Hence, the holy rosary was recited in Chinese Mandarin, Taiwanese, Amis, and English. An ardent devotee of the BVM brought along her statue of Our Lady of Fatima. The statue, beautifully decorated with flowers, was placed at the center of the human rosary formation and afterward carried in procession towards the big grotto of the BVM where the final blessing was done.
Early at dawn the following day, around 3:30am, we started to walk towards the top of the mountain where the Stations of the Cross can be found. The trek was about 4.8 km from the main sanctuary where we stayed overnight. On our way, we recited the Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. Interestingly, this Catholic pilgrim site has now evolved as a famous destination for hiking aficionados due to its well developed trails and its captivating beauty. Along the way, one can see pristine rivers and waterfalls. If one is lucky, sometimes monkeys and different kinds of birds, and other wild animals can be sighted. This pilgrim site was originally discovered and developed with ample help from Catholic faithful all over Taiwan by Bro. Luigi Pavan 巴瑞士修士, an Italian Camillian Brother who was a missionary in Yilan county. Catholic faithful donated money and even manually brought materials such as cement, sand, timber, nails, etc. to the mountaintop to build the structures currently present there. It took many years to build and develop the site which include the stations of the Cross, the statues, the resting place for pilgrims and even the hiking trails leading towards the top, but with perseverance and tenacity of Catholic volunteers and the generosity of donors, the place is now a destination not only for Catholic pilgrims but to thousands of people from all over Taiwan.
Upon reaching our final destination, we were all brimming with pride and some shed copious tears of joy for overcoming the difficulties of the trek and reaching the Golgotha, the apex of the mountain where the crucifix stand. Many among our group, with misty eyes embraced the crucified Jesus perched at the top of the mountain. Drenched in our own sweat and the soft drizzle pouring over our bodies, we all huddled together around the Cross and prayed fervently. Filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit, we poured our hearts, souls and minds to God in praise and thanksgiving. Then a little while later, we headed back to the Church and celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Fr. Joseph Tzao 鄒正義神父 joined Fray Dequilla at the altar and delivered the homily. October 25, 2020 was a memorable day for everyone, but most especially for Fray Joel Dequilla, OAR戴健福神父, who on that very same day celebrated the 25th Anniversary of his simple profession of vows as a religious of the Order of Augustinian Recollects. A couple in our group named Willi and Laura were also celebrating on that day their 44th wedding anniversary. So, we held a simple ceremony of the renewal of their marriage vows.
After the Mass, we headed back to Kaohsiung reinvigorated and with hearts full of joy.