BALANGIGA, Eastern Samar – Some Catholic hierarchy officials will lead the community in Balangiga in offering what is considered to be their highest form of worship, the Holy Mass, as a way of thanksgiving for the return of the bells.
The thanksgiving Mass will be held at Saint Lawrence the Martyr Parish, to which the bells belong, after the turnover ceremonies at the town plaza.
Former Borongan Bishop Leonardo Medroso, who personally lobbied in the US for the return of the bells during his tenure as bishop, will preside over the Mass.
Medroso will be joined by the local Borongan Bishop Crispin Varquez.
Also expected to attend are Archbishop Gabriele Caccia (Papal Nuncio in the Philippines), Archbishop Timothy Broglio (Bishop of the Military Ordinariate of USA), Archbishop Romulo Valles (CBCP President), Palo Archibishop John Du, and Naval Bishop Rex Ramirez, who is a native of Balangiga.
Monsignor Lope Robredillo, the Vicar General of the diocese and Eastern Samar historian, will deliver the homily at Mass.
The officials of the Department of Defense will formally hand over to church leaders the three bells, afterwhich they will be brought inside the parish Church.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will attend the turnover program, but signified that he will skip the Mass saying: “There’s going to be high Mass. I will not be there. I will just float along the coastal shores of Samar. I don’t want to hear the Mass. I have heard all the Masses in the world.”
At the first part of the Mass, the bells will be blessed once again as a way of “re-consecrating” them for religious purposes after they were used to signal an attack by Filipinos against the Americans.
The three bells were taken by the Americans in September 1901 from Balangiga as a war trophy after their retaliatory attack making the place a “howling wilderness.” (E. Raagas/Este News)