Shrine to rise in former refugee camp
Pope celebrated Mass there for Indo-Chinese refugees in 1981
The shrine will be opened at the former Philippine Refugee Processing Center, now known as Bataan Technology Park Inc., on May 2, a day after the pope’s beatification in Rome.
The facility became home to some 400,000 Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian refugees as well as thousands of Filipino and foreign volunteer workers during its 14 years of existence from 1980 to 1994.
At noon on February 21, 1981, Pope John Paul II visited the camp and celebrated a Holy Mass that was attended by thousands of Indo-Chinese refugees.
Ironically hardly any of the refugees who attended the Mass knew who Pope John Paul II was.
“Some thought he was a king. And like a king, he was received by the Indo-Chinese refugees,” said retired navy commodore Amado Sanglay, executive director of the park.
He said about a million refugees who stayed in Bataan are now in their final asylum countries.
“The establishment of the memorial shrine is symbolic for the love and reverence to Pope John II who loved our country and remains in the hearts and minds of the people,” Sanglay said.
Aside from venerating the late pope, the shrine also aims to serve as a “vehicle for uplifting the moral, religious and spiritual life of Filipinos.”
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