Some 300 Catholic faithful joined the Flores de Mayo procession held last May 4 around the St. Rene Goupil church on Ryan Road, Sterling Heights.
The religious event, which is an annual undertaking of the Kapulungan ng Katolikong Pilipino sa Michigan (KKPM) headed by President Billie G. Belen, replicated the traditional Philippine procession in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The procession was capped by the crowning of two St. Mary statutes inside the church. Doing the crowning rites were Marie Jo Belen, Reyna delos Flores (Queen of Flowers); Krysten Villacorte and Aliya San Agustin, Queens of the Holy Rosary; and Ashley Belen, Queen of Peace.
Some 30 children participated in the procession, serving as “sagalas” and escorts. Holding flowers, they looked resplendently angelic in their immaculately white dresses.
The “sagalas” included: Ave Maria — Rina Henderson, Abby Espere, Isabel Talaban, Abby Antonio, Beatrice Salazar, Gabriella Ducusin, Joy Simon and Grace Simon; Faith — Isabella Ducusin; Hope — Jasmine de Ramos; Charity — Maya Guiao; Morning Star — Skye Ducusin; and Mystical Rose — Shanna Talaban.
The other participants in the procession were Flower Girls — Trisha Mae Bartolome and Regina Angeli Razalan; Boy Escort — Patrick Cadelina; Escort of Miss Marie Jo Belen – Raphael Paclivar; and Float Bearers — Ruben Ruella, Jason Rada, Nick Pastrana and Raul Perez.
The procession was followed by a Filipino mass celebrated by Fr. Tim Galos together with Msgr. John Vargas. Both priests are Filipinos.
In his homily, Father Galos urged the mass goers to continue their devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of God. He said that Filipinos are noted all over the world for their devotion to the Blessed Mother, and that’s why the Philippines is known as a Marian country.
Father Galos praised the children for their participation in the procession and the mass as well as members of the KKPM Youth Choir. He said it was heart-warming to observe the children, who were born here in Michigan, while they were doing their part in the mass and trying hard to correctly pronounce the Tagalog words.
“Tagalog is foreign to them, but they believe that what they are doing is worthwhile,” said Father Galos, who hails from Maasin, Leyte. He lauded the parents for their efforts to connect their kids to their Philippine heritage.
The Flores de Mayo procession, he said, is an event that connects the children to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Father Galos waxed nostalgic when he recalled the Flores de Mayo festivities held almost daily in May in many Philippine towns. Priests in the Philippines gain weight in May because they have to attend all the processions that are usually capped with feast in which plenty of food is served, he said.
Shortly before the mass ended, Father Galos handed over certificates of appreciation to the main sponsors – Dr. Rey Franco and Dr. Liberata Pantig.
The popular Isang Binhi choir sang the hymns and psalms in Filipino, making the Eucharistic rites an authentic Filipino mass.
Before the closing prayer was said, Father Galos gave an advanced Happy Mother’s Day greetings to the mothers who attended the mass and blessed them.
Afterwards, the KKPM Youth choir under the baton of Aris Macandog sang “Inay,” a Tagalog song about the people’s love to the Blessed Mother.
The mass goers gave the choir a standing ovation.