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Record numbers at Baclaran church

MANILA (UCAN): A record number of people attended this year’s first Wednesday Mass at the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Manila, The Philippines.
Redemptorist Father Carlos Ronquillo, the rector of the shrine—known colloquially as Baclaran church, said that around 300,000 people attended the January 3 Mass, exceeding the previous year’s 230,000.
The  Wednesday devotion,under the title, Our Mother of Perpetual Help, began in 1946 in response to pleas from American soldiers wounded during World War II.
Although the novena is conducted in all Redemptorist churches around the country, about 100,000 people attend the service in Baclaran.
“Every year the number of devotees attending the Mass is higher,” Father Ronquillo said.
“It tells us that more people are seeking the intercession of the Virgin Mother,” he added.
People who flooded the church compound came from all walks of life, said Father Ronquillo, adding that the “majority are poor people who submit their petitions and prayers.”
During the first three days of the year, the shrine received about 1,500 petitions and at least 200 letters of thanksgiving.
Most people pray for solutions to their financial problems, appeal for employment, while others pray for peace and reconciliation in relationships, said the priest.
Father Ronquillo said he could not explain the rise in devotees visiting the shrine “but this special Marian devotion is deeply embedded in our culture.”  
“The phenomenon indicates that Filipinos feel and experience the perpetual love and help of God through the intercession of Mary,” he said.
In 1958, Baclaran church was granted permission by the Vatican to remain open 24 hours a day and is the only Marian shrine in the world authorised to do so.
In his homily to welcome the New Year, Luis Cardinal Tagle, archbishop of Manila, called on Catholics to learn from Mary “in our search for genuine peace.”
He said, “You are not a real Christian or a Filipino if you don’t care for others,” adding that Filipinos need to “listen and meditate” to achieve peace.

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