The HOLD Marian Conference 2023: Look up and Behold! 

THREE THOUSAND four hundred CFC Handmaids of the Lord leaders from Metro Manila, Bicol, CALABARZON, Central Luzon, Northeastern Luzon, and Northwestern Luzon gathered at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City on September 23, 2023, for the annual Marian Conference.

It was raining heavily and there was flooding in many streets around the Metro but these did not dampen the enthusiasm of CFC HOLD.

Millette Corpuz of HOLD MM North B opened the Marian Conference with a vibrant worship. Leli Roque, Sector Coordinator for MM Central B, delivered the first session titled “Look Up,” which presented Mother Mary as an inspiration because of her strength and steadfastness in the midst of suffering.

“We are trapped in this wilderness of moral decay, darkness, and sin,” Roque stated. “Does this mean everything is hopeless, sisters? No! Because there is someone working continuously to point us towards the right path and make us aware of how we can help others in the midst of darkness. Someone went through a wilderness of her own and this is no other than our dear Mother, Mary.”

Roque shared three traits that the Blessed Mother displayed in the midst of her sorrows: the Blessed Mother hoped, prayed, and acted.

“Satan may be working overtime, and it may seem that the enemy is winning as he prowls the earth seeking the ruin of souls, but let us not forget that through the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and by way of the Blessed Mother, whom God has given the power to crush the serpent’s head, we witness the Father’s love and mercy, as well as His victory.”

Myra Respicio, the HOLD Metro Manila Coordinator, followed with Session 2, titled “Behold”. Respicio highlighted the role of Mary as evangelizer, as expressed through her many apparitions, and encouraged the Handmaids to participate in Mary’s mission of evangelization by acting on/living out the messages given during her appearances.

The key message of the session is that Mary, as foretold in Isaiah 7:14, was destined by God to be a source of help and hope through her mission of evangelization. From the time she went in haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who in her old age, was with child, to her apparitions in various places throughout the centuries, the Blessed Mother has been relentless in pursuing this mission and has done so with amazing results. As Handmaids who look up to Mary as their model, everyone is called to cooperate with her in evangelization by living out the messages proclaimed in her apparitions.

“Among the actions that we are called to take, the most common ones are to pray the Rosary each day, penance, to pray for sinners, to establish devotions such as the first Saturday devotions and the devotion to her Immaculate Heart, and to build churches,” Respicio shared. She asked, “How have we responded to Mary’s messages, dear sisters? What have we done or are doing so that her messages will come to fruition now and in the days to come? Have we been faithful to the practices she enjoined us to fulfill?”

She encouraged the Handmaids to reflect on and to commit to the following: to avoid sin, participate actively in the Mass and receive Communion, do penance in reparation for sins, pray for sinners and unbelievers, recite the Rosary regularly, and consecrate oneself to Jesus through Mary.

Respicio added, “Astounding things that will cause people to exclaim, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’ can happen if we allow ourselves to become instruments of hope through our work of evangelization and mission, as Mary did.” She challenged the delegates, “Sisters, do you want to behold more amazing things that you have never seen before? Then let us go with Mary and cooperate with her mission of evangelization.

The world may be in darkness now, but let us not allow ourselves to be engulfed in it. Illumined by Christ, let us be the light that will bring hope to others.”

Capping the 2 spirit-filled sessions was the praise fest, led by Dory Sarmiento of HOLD Central B.

The HOLD Marian Conference delegates left the arena in a hopeful mode, first because the rains had stopped, and the floods had subsided, but more so because of the renewed spirit and inspiration from the Blessed Mother. (Alma Alvarez)

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