The air in the heart of Dumaguete City is filled with anticipation as the annual feast day of St. Catherine of Alexandria approaches. A City draped in tradition and deep-rooted faith, Dumaguete is set to commemorate its Patroness Saint with a series of Novena masses, leading up to the grand celebration on Nov. 25.
St. Catherine of Alexandria, a revered early Christian martyr and one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, stands as a beacon of inspiration for the people of Dumaguete. Her story, a blend of royalty, scholarship, and unwavering devotion to Christianity resonates with believers who gather to honor her memory.
According to her hagiography, she embraced Christianity at the tender age of 14, converted hundreds to the faith, and faced martyrdom with extraordinary courage at the age of 18.
The vivid tale of St. Catherine’s martyrdom, condemned by the Roman Emperor Maxentius, is both chilling and miraculous. The spiked wheel meant to bring about her demise shattered upon her touch. Undeterred, Maxentius then ordered her beheading, only to witness a flow of milk-like substance instead of blood from her neck.
As Dumaguete prepares for the festivities, it’s not just a celebration of religious fervor but a tribute to the rich tapestry of saints within the Roman Catholic Church. With over 10,000 saints recognized, and many enduring martyrdom, the faithful in Dumaguete find solace and strength in the stories of those who faced persecution, embodying an unyielding faith in Jesus.
The celebration, however, is not just about commemorating the past; it’s a vibrant, living tradition that involves the entire community. It commences with the 9-day Duaw Patron, a prelude to the feast day.
During this period, the Cathedral Parish Formation Team of the Basic Ecclesial Communities imparts teachings on fostering a Synodal Church. The theme for this year, Fostering a Synodal Church through Basic Ecclesial Communities and a Sustainable Pastoral Program, underscores the commitment to communal growth and spiritual development.
The BECs, a flagship program of the Diocese of Dumaguete and the Cathedral Parish, exemplify a genuine force for evangelization. Beyond their regular gatherings for prayer and reflection, these communities actively engage in Christ’s mission, emphasizing love and service to others, especially the poor and needy. They stand as the Church of the poor, a grassroots embodiment of the prophetic, priestly, and servant mission of the Church.
The Diocesan dream of Bishop Julito Cortes aligns with the dream of Pope Francis for the Universal Church.
In Dumaguete, under the stewardship of Parish Priest Rev. Msgr. Robert Bongoyan and his dedicated team, the vision is becoming a reality.
Bishop Cortes envisions Dumaguete as a Eucharistic ecclesial community, firm in faith, biblical in teaching, and sacrificial in serving, all while being missionary in spirit and mindful of the poor.
As Dumaguete prepares to celebrate its beloved Patroness Saint, the city stands not only as a testament to a rich religious history but also as a living embodiment of communal growth, faith, and service. St. Catherine of Alexandria’s legacy lives on, inspiring a community to embrace the spirit of love, sacrifice, and evangelization.
Author’s email: [email protected]