Tarlaqueños believe that the Province of Tarlac has been blessed even more since the arrival of the Relic of the True Cross of Jesus Christ. Just recently, another piece of the heavens has found its home in Gerona, Tarlac through the St. JosemariaEscriva Parish and the first class relic from Spain – St. Josemaria’s tooth – housed within its baptistery.
St. JosemariaEscriva is the founder of the Opus Dei, a ministry of the Catholic Church, whose members dedicate their lives to teaching the path to holiness. In continuing this mission, the same ministry established a Diocesan Parish, the only one in Asia, dedicated to him.
Construction of the parish started in 2010, and through the efforts and donations of the community and some prominent people in the country, was blessed on February 14, 2014. Over two thousand churchgoers witnessed the said blessing. A couple of months later, a notable count considered it for VisitaIglesia (church visitation) during the 2014 Semana Santa or Holy Week. Because of these, it has been declared a diocesan shrine, and might soon even be considered a national shrine.
The intricate decorations inside the church make for the most ideal place to pray and reflect. Father Alex Bautista, who was an architect before he was priest, designed the whole of the church and personally saw the adorning stage. Local artists from Bicol hand-painted the ceilings, walls and pillars of the church, while Mr. Richie Palatao, an artist from Concepcion, Tarlac, painted all of the framed artworks within the church and the Ermita. Professor Noel Escultura sculpted the bronze angel on the automated bell tower. It has been said that the angel shines gold whenever the sun sets.
St. JosemariaEscriva Parish offers a drive-thru visit to elders, the handicapped and pregnant women, as well as to the late-night travellers. All the churchgoer has to do is drive by the back of the church – where a sensor activates the lights on the altar – and then pray and view the Blessed Sacrament.
Looking for a place to talk to God is never hard. We often sit, close our eyes, and say what we want to. But there are certain times when we search for certain places to feel and bask in the quiet. St. JosemariaEscriva is one of those places. So if you happen to pass by the province on your way to your ventures, dropping by is a blessing.