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Maximilian Ministry Celebrates Holy Week 2024 with Persons Deprived of Liberty in Caceres

HOLY week for Christians is the most important week of the year. The name was first used in the 4th century by St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, and by St. Epiphanius of Constantia that gives us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the central events of the Redemption, to relive the Paschal Mystery, the great Mystery of faith. Maximilian Ministry, the Social Action Arm of the Archdiocese of Caceres that renders pastoral services to members of the Church behind bars in four jail facilities namely: Camarines Sur Provincial Jail and Penal Farm, BJMP Iriga, BJPM Tigaon ,BJMP Naga commemorates in a special way the holiest week with Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDL).

On March 21, synchronous administration of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation to inmates in all jail facilities in Caceres was made possible by Caceres Clergy headed by Rev Fr Jayson S. Gaite, Chairman-Chaplain Maximilian Ministry together with his brother Priests namely Rev Fr. Rex Luis Hidalgo, Rev Fr Erwin Blasa, Rev Fr. Dennis Tan, Rev Fr. Sharnsky Cama, Rev Fr Edward Pletado, Rev Fr. Lino Labrador, Rev Fr. Nunilon Bancaso, Rev Fr. Joel Bonina, Rev Fr. Pablo Carpio, Rev Fr Sanny Apin, Rev Fr Jene Lois Sarmiento and Rev Fr Dexter Peñaflor as a gift that permits each one to encounter the mercy of God in a personal and profound way.

Meaningful activities in the Jail facilities for Holy Week begun with Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday, which falls on the 24th of March followed by an early start of 5:00 AM on Holy Wednesday, March 27 for the Visita Iglesias and Way of the Cross by members of the Maximilian Ministry, Volunteers and friends as they visited 5 jail facilities highlighting the words of Jesus: I was in prison and you visited Me (Mt. 25:36) and 10 churches namely Metropolitan Cathedral, NC, Good Shepherd Chapel, HRMS, BJMP Naga Male and Female Dorms, Christ the King Church, CamSur Provincial Jail and Penal Farm, St John of the Cross Parish, Agdangan, Baao, Our Lady of Fatima Shrine, Iriga City, St Jude Thaddeus Church, Iriga City, BJMP- Iriga, Nuestra Señora de las Angustias Church, St Peter Baptist Church, BJMP-Tigaon, St Francis of Assisi Church, Himaao, Pili and Resurrection Garden Holy Rosary Major Seminary, NC. Each visit calls on the faithful to reflect on the final places Jesus went from His arrest on Holy Thursday to his death on Good Friday. At each church, pilgrims kneel before the altar of repose, meditate on a scriptural excerpt, and offer prayers and adoration.Statue of Jesus the Nazarene generously lent by Mayor Anthony Reyes, a devout Catholic himself preceded pilgrims on their journey. On the 28th of March also known as Maundy Thursday is the day that commemorates the Washing of the Feet and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles, as described in the canonical gospels. PDL in varied Jail facilities played the roles of the disciples with the Priests as Jesus in the washing of the feet in all jail facilities. Last Supper was played out in CamSur Provincial Jail and Penal Farm. The meal would have been like a Passover meal, a ritualized meal with the formal breaking of bread and sharing of cups of wine. The meal commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt and their escape through the Red Sea. Jesus refocuses this story around journey He is to undertake, which is also a journey of liberation, achieved by trusting that His covenant relationship with His Father is stronger even than death.

Good Friday, March 29, the day of the Passion and the Crucifixion of the Lord. Siete Palabras took a new twist as PDL in all jail facilities except NC Female ward shared their experiences and thoughts after each testimonial on Seven Last Words of Jesus by the members of the Maximilian Ministry and partners organizations. Every year, standing in silence before Jesus hanging on the wood of the Cross, we feel how full of love the words were that He spoke on the previous evening during the Last Supper. “This is my blood, of the covenant, which is poured out for many” Jesus wanted to offer His life in sacrifice for the remission of humanity’s sins. As it does before the Eucharist, as well as before the Passion and death of Jesus on the Cross, the mystery eludes reason. We are placed before something which, humanly, may appear senseless: a God who is not only made Man, with all the needs of man, who not only suffers to save man, taking upon himself the whole tragedy of humanity, but also dies for man. Christ’s death recalls the accumulated sorrow and evils that weigh upon humanity of every age: the crushing weight of our death, the hatred and violence that still today stain the earth with blood. The Passion of the Lord continues in the suffering of human beings. If Good Friday is a day full of sorrow, it is therefore at the same time a particularly propitious day to reawaken our faith, to consolidate our hope and courage so that each one of us may carry our cross with humility, trust and abandonment in God, certain of his support and his victory.

Hope is nourished in the great silence of Black Saturday, in expectation of the Resurrection of Jesus. On this day no particular liturgical rites are scheduled. The PDL in all jails keeps vigil in prayer like Mary and with Mary, sharing her same sentiments of sorrow and of trust in God. A prayerful atmosphere was preserved throughout the day, favorable for meditation and reconciliation. The recollection and silence of Holy Saturday ushers the PDL , Maximilian Ministry members, volunteers, Jail staff and officers into the night of the solemn Easter Vigil held at Tinangis Penal Farm solemnly supervised by the Adonai’s Love headed by Lay Leader Engr. William Menes, Once again the victory of light over darkness, of life over death will be proclaimed and the Church will rejoice in the encounter with her Lord.

The atmosphere of Easter was deeply felt by our beloved inmates, jail officers and staff as simultaneous feeding and distribution of toiletries to all jail facilities were manned by pre-determined organizations.

The success of the activities can be attributed to the mercy and grace from God and the selfless service and love of the Maximilian Ministry Chairman, officers, members and volunteers through the years, partner organizations headed by the; Adonai’s Love Community, Ladies of Charity, Legion of Mary CRC Naga-LLFCC; Radio Caritas Mariae, CRC IRIGA (Parish of St. Jude Thaddeus and St. Anthony of Padua); Voyadores of St. Jude Thaddeus and St. Anthony of Padua Parish; CFC Iriga, Bro and Sis Honest , Ness Oliva, Joan Papa. CRC Goa CFC Tigaon, Flor Azana – Pechelitos, USI HS Batch 86, Collaborators, DEP ED Iriga Division Office Cristy Magsino Palma owner of Bob Marlin, Kathleen Marquez De Villa owner 3N Bakeshop, CHS-NCF Dean Stanley Dy and Clinical Instructors Rene Poliente, Menen Cea, and Raymund Vargas, Hermie Del Mundo Shop, Missionaries of the Poor Sisters, DEP-ED Iriga; OLPA Officers -facilitated by Ms. Blandie Barrameda; | Retired Teachers and Alumni of Sta. Clara Academy (Sienna College, Tigaon, Cam Sur - Mrs. Sol Andres; Mrs. Rose Dela Paz; Ms. Theresa Plazo; Mr. Rodolfo Pempeña II; Mrs. Geraldine Ablao; Mrs. Jocelyn Federis; Mrs. Rosalinda Cadiz; Mrs. Epifania Nilo & Mr. Heriberto Bacud); CRC GOA ; Mr. Andy Cate; Akeem; Engr. Flordeliza Azaña and Family, St. Jude Thaddeus Parish Iriga Lectors Ministry; DMI Fatima; Ms. Jane Caballero; Ms. Elizabeth Lagatic; Ms. Alice Lopez; Ems Sirios; Ma. Elizabeth; Nox Jove; Joel and Lot Araneta; Meden Gonzales; Josefina Gonzales; Ms. Cherie Ignao Orbon; Mr. Marlon Orbon; Ms. Nida Trivinio; Ms. Sally Oliva; Ms. Magnolia Joven; CWL of St. Anthony of Padua Parish; Pure and Angelo Esplana; Ron & Yvette Villacrusis; Ms. Tess Romero; Mr. Norman Oya; Ms. Myra Sunguad; Mr. Arnel Velasco and Rev. Fr. Rex Luis Hidalgo.

Hats off to the unsung heroes of our time , for their excellent service viz DSC Regional Director of the Jail Bureau BJMPRO-V JSInsp Editha A Kipte. Provincial Administrator BJMP Cam Sur JCInsp Freddie T Caballero II , Tinangis Jail Warden PCol Romeo Pillonar, Acting District Jail Warden, JCInsp Rodolfo L Verzosa Jr Warden, Naga City DJ-MD JCInsp Freddie T Caballero Warden, Iriga City DJ JSInsp Desman C Onsat Warden, Tigaon DJ JSInsp Chona A Seno Warden, Naga City DJ-FD JCSupt Joel S Superficial.

May the Risen Lord sustain our brothers and sisters in their journey towards reformation and healing. Easter does not work magic. The Church, after the resurrection, always finds history filled with joy and hope, grief and anguish. And yet, this history is changed, it is marked by a new and eternal covenant, it is truly open to the future. For this reason, saved by hope, let us continue our pilgrimage, bearing in our hearts the song that is ancient and yet ever new: “Let us sing to the Lord: glorious His triumph!”


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