PARSIPPANY For 33 days, a prayer group called the Barangay of the Virgin journeyed through prayer and reflection for a special consecration to Jesus and Mary.
The culmination of this journey took place at St. Peter the Apostle Parish here recently. The prayer group consisted of Filipinos in Morris County and neighboring areas, who followed the book, “33 Days to Morning Glory,” by Marian Father Michael Gaitley. His book presents in everyday language how consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary can help a person grow in holiness and become closer to Jesus. In the book, he links the following saints with great devotion to the Blessed Mother — St. John Paul II, St. Mother Teresa, St. Maximillian Kolbe and St. Louis de Montfort.
Going through the process was Emma Becker, who is a parishioner of St. Therese’s in Succasunna and active member of the group. “It was self-realization and the 33 Day experience opened my mind to things that I thought I already knew but actually didn’t know,” she said. “We had weekly lively meetings and discussions of the week’s readings and teachings.”
The “morning glory” experience is just one of the activities the Barangay of the Virgin USA are involved in. They host several fundraising events supporting more than 250 non-profit Catholic organizations in the Philippines and have raised more $500,000 since 1989. They host dinner dances, summer picnics, garage sales and trips to the Blue Army Shrine in Washington, N.J. and the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass. In preparation for Holy Week, the group will host a retreat for its members.
Becker said, “We have been fortunate to have the support of our community in achieving our goals. Without them, it would not be at all possible to accomplish what we have done.”
The Morris-Essex Chapter meets once at month at St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Parsippany. The history of the organization dates back to 1949 in the Philippines as a Marian organization and a lay Catholic action movement. The icon of the “Barangay of the Virgin” was blessed on Oct. 16, 1955 and depicts Our Lady as a mother manifesting her tender love and solitude for the people of a “barangay,” which translates to village, as Jesus offers them the rosary. The original painting of the image was blessed by St. Pope John Paul II in 1981.
Filipinos migrating to the United States introduced this devotion in 1978. The National Barangay of the Virgin meets once a month at St. Aedan Church in Jersey City with all the chapter presidents in New York and New Jersey attending.
For Becker, belonging to the Barangay of the Virgin prayer group has brought her closer to God. She recalled having to deal with a difficult co-worker, who doubted God’s existence and taunted Becker for being active in the Church. She defended her faith to the co-worker because she said, “It really hurt me and made me upset that God was being made a joke and I could not let that happen. The next morning, I was thinking of that moment and wondered to myself where did that conviction come from. I didn’t know it then but I know it now. I cannot exist without God by my side.”
The Barangay of the Virgin group welcomes anyone to join them. at their monthly Masses in St. Peter the Apostle Church.
“We can give glory to God by depending on the Blessed Virgin Mary to help us in our daily lives,” said Becker.
[Information: Faye Nucum (93) 479-2009 or Emma Becker (973) 229-9371.]