By DEEDEE M. SIYTANGCO
‘I am here. I am your Mother. Do not fear.’ —Words of Mother Mary at Fatima, Medjugorje, Lourdes, and Lipa made into a song by Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD
Happy rains of May! Flower are blooming in our home gardens. Sadly, we can’t have Flores de Mayo and santacruzans, but we can pray the rosary daily as a family and offer whatever grows in our garden to Mary.
A Mediatrix believer who asked to remain anonymous, wrote a brief personal experience with the Lipa phenomena. Sometime in the last quarter of the 1990s, he attended an outdoor mass held at the Lipa chapel, with his wife, daughter, and mother-in-law. The people filled the big parking space and faced the altar situated for that special occasion on the elevated driveway of the chapel (I was, in fact, at the back of the altar on the church steps with my husband and group of believers).
It was the feast of Our Lady and Archbishop Gaviola officiated a high mass. Gaviola did not give a homily. He confessed later that he did not believe in the apparitions so said nothing about it, and let a priest give the homily. After the consecration, the people started to shout and point to the sun, which was at their back. It was spinning and throwing its bright rays in the sky and seemed to be going toward the earth then it abruptly stopped and went back to its place high up in the sky.
Bishop Gaviola stood up from his chair and addressed the crowd. “I have seen the phenomenon with my own eyes! I believe now that our Lady really appeared here, You no longer have to go to Medjugorje!”
It was such an awesome experience for everyone and even for Teresing who sat near us. She was in near tears. I remember I wrote about “the miracle of the sun in Lipa” for my paper the very next day.
Now lets hear from Fr, Jerry Orbos, SVD, well-known for his Marian devotion. A tri-media personality (print, radio, TV), he has over the years been open about his devotion to Mama Mary. In fact, his song, “I Am Your Mother” is popular here and abroad. The words are taken from the apparition of Our Lady at Guadalupe, Mexico, where she identified herself with “I am your Mother” to Diego and for him not to be afraid. Its the same sentiment in Fatima and Lourdes, and happily in Lipa too.
Fr. Jerry first met Teresing Castillo in the early 1990s through the late June Keithly and the Center for Peace Marian Devotees.
“What stuck me most about her was her simplicity, humility, and joy. ‘Little One’ was how our Mama Mary called her, and she was literally that. She had no air, no agenda, no issues. She had that ‘Holy Indifference,’ and she faithfully kept her sacred silence on the 1948 Lipa Marian Apparitions,” Fr Jerry recalled. “Teresing was a victim soul who continued to be simple and obedient to the Church til the very end. The presence of suffering, obedience, and perseverance are signs of authentic discipleship.”
As a young priest in the 1980s, he always felt the strong presence of Mama Mary whenever he dropped by Lipa Carmel, and he was deeply struck by the reality of her words: I am your Mother.
“This message,” notes Fr. Jerry, “is especially addressed to priests and religious who need Mama Mary’s care for sanctification and renewal. This loving and welcoming message is personified by the Lipa Carmel community, particularly by Sr. Elizabeth, the ex-tern sister then, who exuded such joy, sanctity, and motherly welcome.”
Sometime in July 1991 when he offered mass at the Lipa Carmel Church, a strange thing happened to him.
“I don’t know how they got there, but there were three flies in the wine I just consecrated. My first thought was to remove them with the purificator, but right there and then, the Lord challenged me with the question: ‘Jerry, do you love me? Do you believe this is my blood?’ I went on with the mass not quite knowing what to do. Finally, at communion I said: ‘Lord, I love you, I believe this is your blood,’ and I drank the consecrated wine with the three flies, and just bowed my head in prayer, and thanked God for giving me the chance to prove my love for Him in the Eucharist. In my heart I believe that it was Mama Mary who made this experience possible to bring me closer to her Son, a personal experience of Mary as a mediator and mediatrix.”
Although Fr. Jerry didn’t have much contact with Teresing during her lifetime, his devotion to Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Grace continued and remained strong. From 2015 to 2018, he was assigned at our SVD Mission House in San Jose, Batangas, a town next to Lipa.
“I look at it as Mama Mary’s way of assuring me of her motherly presence and I am grateful that I had the chance to bless and pray over Teresing Castillo, the ‘Little One,’ on her deathbed at the our Lady of Mediatrix Hospital in Lipa.”
Bochie Tapales Santiago, a Mediatrix believer, wrote about her daughter, Ma. Jose Gabriela or Boobie, who was born with a congenital heart defect, transposition of the great arteries. The baby had to undergo a Mustard Procedure at 18 months. Those who have this heart defect are expected not to live long, only for seven years or, at the most, 20. At 14 years old, Boobie weakened. Her stomach bloated, her legs swelled, and her weight dropped drastically.
They met a healer, Babet Gaston, who was a staunch devotee of Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Grace. Bochie brought Boobie, also on her request, to Lipa every first Saturday of the month to hear mass. During mass, they prayed intently for healing. At home, the mother rubbed holy water from the spring at the apparition site on Boobie’s legs. After a while, the swelling and bloating subsided, leaving the doctors baffled. Her cardiac output, which was dangerously low, went up to almost normal.
Boobie went on to iive a normal, active life—she was even picked as one of Manila’s Five Loveliest when she made her debut—until she was 22, when God called her home. But she never had to suffer the pains of her previous sickness again. She went peacefully. Her mom is a committed devotee now of the Mediatrix. She says Mary is truly the intercessor to Her Son.