NATIONAL CITY – It’s something residents don’t see every day: Little angels walking along the sidewalk, followed by a small prince and queen and a grown-up royal court.
That’s how an event called Flores de Mayo began on May 29, organized by the Filipino Catholic community to celebrate one of its most significant traditions — their devotion to the Blessed Mother.
The procession included a group of men pushing a cart bearing the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, several priests, and a line of multicultural men, women and children, many carrying flowers. Curious neighborhood residents stepped outside of their homes to see the colorful procession, some snapping photos with their phones.
The faithful walked ten blocks along city streets, beginning and ending at St. Mary’s Church on East 7th Street, which hosted the event on a cool morning under gray skies.
Flores de Mayo means “May flowers” in Spanish, a reflection of the influence of that country in the Philippines. An expedition from Spain in 1521 arrived on the island of Limasawa, in what is now called the Philippines, introducing Christianity to the native population. San Diego’s Diocesan Commission for Filipino Catholics organized Flores the Mayo, in part, to commemorate that 500th anniversary.
After the procession, Father Michael Pham, the diocese’s Vicar General and director of the Office for Ethnic and Intercultural Communities, celebrated an outdoor Mass for more than 200 faithful. He was accompanied by several Filipino priests, including Father Nemesio Sungcad, St. Mary’s pastor, and Father Romeo Supnet, who delivered the homily.
“We continue to come together to ask our Blessed Mother to intercede for us with her son, especially in these difficult times with the pandemic,” said Father Pham, in his opening remarks. “Though it’s waning, there is so much need for her prayers for our families, for our cultures, for all people coming together as one human family, before her son, Jesus Christ, who had come into the world to save the whole human race.”
Near the end of the event, many of the men, women and children stepped up to offer flowers to “Mary, Mother of Our Church,” a statue officially presented the previous weekend at the diocese’s Pentecost Mass for All People.