For those who attended, as well as those who actively participated, it was a time of celebration. The occasion was the dedication of the Shrine of our Lady of FIAT on the site of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Germantown.
The day’s highlight was a Saturday noon Mass celebrated by Vincentian Bishop Roland Santos, CM, from the Philippines.
Sheila O’Hagan McGirl, the director of institutional advancement for the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal, which maintains the shrine, says the CAMM has a close relationship with the local Filipino community.
“The Filipino community approached us,” she said. “They were so grateful for the blessings upon the community, that they wanted to collaborate with us and build a shrine to Our Lady of FIAT.”
In the Filipino community, FIAT has a dual meaning. According to Catholic teaching, it represents Mary accepting her role as the Mother of Jesus. It is also an acronym for Filipinos in America Today and the occasion had a Filipino flavor.
The mass was preceded by a motorcade and procession which concluded in front of the CAMM shrine on Chelten Ave and featured a statue of Mary which was carried on the flatbed of a truck.
Many of the participants in the parade wore traditional Filipino attire. “The men were dressed in the traditional Barong – and the ladies wore their traditional Filipina dress,” McGirl said. “The fabric for the traditional clothing is made from the Piña - which is a fiber from the leaves of the pineapple plant. This fabric was also used to dress Our Lady of FIAT statue.”
Following the procession and the Mass, the statue was carried to the lower level of the building to the accompaniment of prayers and hymns, and enthroned in the shine which is now its permanent home.
McGirl said the Mass and the procession stirred emotional reactions from the attendees, including herself. “It touched my heart,” she said. “I found myself with a lump in my throat. This is such a devout community.”
The Central Association of the Miraculous Medal is affiliated with the Vincentians, who is the midst of celebrating the 170th anniversary of their arrival in Germantown. Founded in France by St. Vincent de Paul c. 1616, the order is committed to assisting the poor. In practice, this meant establishing various community service organizations and then arranging for individuals outside the religious community to manage them.
The order has helped launch a number of charitable endeavors in the Germantown area, including, among others, Inn Dwelling, which assists at-risk students, the DePaul House, which provides transitional housing for homeless men, and PARecycyle, a recycling effort that provides part-time employment for individuals recently released from prison.