Conference on Mary: Embracing the Cordimarian Spirituality in the Claretian Mission

May 6, 2024 | Fr. Rhoel Gallardo, Spirituality and Community Life

Quezon City, Philippines. The 1st Conference on Mary (ConMaria) with the theme “You Are Blessed Among Women.” (Luke 1:42), was held on May 01, 2024, at the Gonzales Hall, Claret School of Quezon City, with online participants joining through Zoom. A total of 181 participants joined the hybrid conference.

ConMaria was initiated by the Fr. Rhoel Gallardo Province in the Philippines, under the care of the Prefecture of Spirituality through its publishing ministry, the Claretian Communications Foundation Inc. (CCFI), in collaboration with Claret School of Quezon City, as the Claretian Missionaries celebrate the 175th Foundation Anniversary of the Congregation on July 16, 2024. 

The Claretian Missionaries, through the inspiration of its founder, St. Anthony Mary Claret, and the tradition of the Congregation, understood this role of the Blessed Virgin Mary – as mother, foundress, formatrix, and protectress.  These characteristics of Mary that best express the Claretian’s Cordimarian Spirituality are contained in her Heart – her Immaculate Heart. 

The program started with an invocation led by CCFI’s employees, where the Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was recited.  Rev. Fr. Amador Tumbaga, CMF, Vicar Provincial and Prefect of Spirituality, opened the event and welcomed the participants of the conference.  This was followed by the inspiring message of Rev. Fr. Elias Ayuban, Jr., CMF, Provincial Superior.

The first talk, Mary, The Perfect Follower of Christ, The Absolute ‘Crown of Creation’–Religious Practice of Crowning Marian Images by Mr. Michael Delos Reyes, expounded on the Religious Practice of Crowning Marian Images.  It traced its foundations in Christianity, including the contributions of the Capuchin Fra Girolamo Paolucci from (1552-1620), and Count Alessandro Sforza Pallavicino (+1638) in shaping a religious practice into an official act of the Church.  

The current norms on crowning images and the Order of Crowning Marian images from the Holy See were discussed.  It culminated with a quick review of the Pontifically crowned images from 1907 to 2024 and concluded with a reflection on the essential role of Marian devotion in our Christian faith.

The second talk And the Mother of Jesus was There” (Jn 2:1) … An Historical Perspective by Dr. Carmen Lourdes Valdes, drew a thread from sparks from scripture revealing the gift that Mary was and is.  These insights and journeys presented several apparitions where Mary herself tells us who she wants to be for us.  Moreover, the speaker explained the persistent messages through every age and showed Mary’s loving desire to take us all under her motherly mantle… because the “Mother of Jesus was (and is always) there.” 

Dr. Valdes concentrated on three moments of Mary’s presence: Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico; Our Lady of Kibeho, Rwanda; and Our Lady of La Vang, Vietnam.  When seen together, her consistent communication lights the path that leads to ONENESS with each other and LOVE within the Trinitarian God.

The final talk on Mary, Accomplice of the Spirit in Contemporary Times: In the Continuing Pentecost of the Church by Rev. Fr. José Cristo Rey García Paredes, CMF answered questions about the relationship between Mary and the Holy Spirit, as ‘the Bride of the Holy Spirit’ and ‘conceiving Jesus by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit,’ and her continued presence in our midst.  These answers can be summed up in the following sentence and title: Mary is the Holy Spirit’s accomplice in the Church’s continuing Pentecost. 

Fr. Cristo Rey’s reflection was divided into four parts: 1) Mary, “accomplice of the Spirit,” 2) The Mission of the Holy Spirit, 3) Mary (Pan-aghia) in covenant with the Holy Spirit (Pan-aghion) in the time of the Church, 4) A permanent Marian-Pentecost, that becomes “cosmic.

After each presentation, the participants were divided into breakout groups for small group sharing. Group representatives then shared the highlights of their sharing in the plenary sessions. Online participants were likewise able to share their answers and reflections through the chatbox.

Rev. Fr. Christian Buenafe, O.Carm prepared a synthesis highlighting the key points of the three presentations.  This was followed by the Question and Answer Forum, where participants were given the chance to engage with the speakers.

Rev. Fr. Dennis Tamayo, CMF, Executive Director of CCFI, wrapped up the gathering and delivered the closing remarks. The Conference on Mary concluded with a celebration of the Holy Eucharist presided by Fr. Elias Ayuban, Jr., CMF. 

Mr. Raffy Garcia, a member of the Dilaab Music Ministry of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, serenaded the Blessed Mother.  Ms. Mary Ann Cruz, Deputy Executive Director of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines or CEAP, moderated the Breakout Sessions and the Q&A Forum.  Mr. Macky Santos, an Ateneo de Manila Senior High School faculty member, hosted the event. 

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