I left the Philippines in June of 2000 so I had the opportunity to be there for one last Holy Week before I bade Manila goodbye. On my last Holy Week there, I decided to do the Visita Iglesia on my own, commuting from church to church alone. (I don’t remember now why Nikky wasn’t able to tag along.)
Visita Iglesia is an old traditional ritual in the Philippines where the faithful visit at least 7 churches on Maundry Thursday and say their prayers or do the Station of the Cross. It is something we had done as family year in and year out. So I struck out on my own in 2000 and went around Metro Manila, beginning with the churches in San Juan where I lived, and ending in the Binondo Church. (I even brought home some Hopia from good old Eng Bee Tin..) It was an offer of Thanksgiving for the blessing of having found someone to spend my life with, and an offer of indulgence for guidance and blessing in the new life I was about to embrace.
I was hoping to do this the first Holy Week that saw me in New York in 2001. I googled the Roman Catholic Churches in Manhattan and that’s how I discovered that there is actually one in practically every street in Manhattan, just that some are on the East Side, and others on the West. Unfortunately, like now, I was working then and was unable to embark on this quest.
In Midtown alone I can count at least 4 churches I was sure to visit — the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in front of Rockefeller Center, Our Church of Jesus Christ the Saviour on 38th and Park Avenue, the Church of St. Agnes on 43rd between Lex and 3rd Avenue and the Church of Our Lady of Victory down in the financial district. (And we all thought Robert Jaworski had actually made her up whenever he invoked her name after explaining the game play to his team during his years as coach and player. Believe me, the Church exists, so there IS an Our Lady of Victory..)
I may not be able to do the Visita Iglesia but I will be praying… going through my own kind of Holy Week here in the big apple.