Santa Remedios fiesta in the midst of pandemic


SAIPAN—With everyone sitting in masks, six-feet apart, the parish of Nuestra Señora Bithen Delos Remedios, which is usually fully packed during its annual fiesta, saw some pews mandated to be left empty due to social distancing guidelines. The pandemic, however, did not prevent the success of this year’s celebration. Parishioners filled every available seat, including those placed outside the church and under tarp canopies. Together, the assembly prayed in thanksgiving for yet another year of blessings in the humble northern village of Tanapag.

The Marianas is currently at the peak of its typhoon season, having brought unpredictable weather all throughout the past couple months, but with God’s grace and Mary’s intercession, the sun was out all throughout the morning’s fiesta. The beams of light shining through landed on the statue of Nuestra Señora, which stood at the side of the altar with a band of white, fragrant orchids sitting below her crown of stars.

Thirty minutes before the scheduled mass time, the techa led the people in praying the final day’s novena to Sta. Remedios. After some prayers and songs, the statue of Mary was blessed with incense and crowned with flowers. The commentator then asked the assembly to stand to welcome His Reverence, Bishop Ryan P. Jiminez, who presided the mass along with Rev. Father Jayferson Baldelovar, OAR, as they processed in with the altar servers, Deacon Tom Schweiger and Deacon Jeff Camacho, and the three lectors who wore matching blue-and-white Hawaiian-print dresses.

Bishop’s homily touched on a recent blessing in the Church regarding the beatification of Blessed Carlo Acutis. Having shared a summary of the young blessed’s moving biography, Bishop encouraged all, despite the current situations we all find ourselves in light of this pandemic, to be humble, to give to the poor, and to be of service to others just as Blessed Carlo had been during his time on earth.

The mass continued as the instruments and voices of the youth choir echoed from the building’s high ceilings. With songs of praise and love, masks only slightly muffled the voices of those wanting to join in the singing of the lyrics displayed on the monitors at the front of the altar. Toward the end of the mass, the Parish Council Vice President, Mr. Kennedy Benjamin, gave a brief message of appreciation to all those who contributed to this year’s fiesta.

Cars promptly lined up on the road in front of the church. Following the leading Department of Public Safety vehicle was the pickup truck on which the statue of Nuestra Señora sat, enclosed in a glass container with floral arrangements surrounding her base. Father Jayferson and a couple altar servers sat alongside her statue, and behind them lined a long motorcade of vehicles. The unconventional convoy-procession made their way through the entire northern half of the island, making sure to pass the fronts other two parishes in the northern cluster. Outside San Roque Parish, Father Neil Bullos, OAR, and a handful of San Roque parishioners stood outside and waved at the passing cars, showing their support for the neighboring parish’s celebration.

To conclude the day’s fiesta, an organized line of cars assembled by the Tanapag Beach, each picking up bottles of cold water and flavorful pre-packed lunches of red rice, roasted chicken, beef pot roast smothered in gravy, and fruity macaroni salad. Everyone was left happy, stomachs filled, and more importantly, spirit high and grateful. The fiesta was once again, and completely unsurprisingly, a success. Without a doubt, this coming year, pandemic or typhoon, or however we find ourselves in situations we like or dislike, will once again be abundant in blessings of God’s love, according to His plans and with the intercession of Our Lady of Good Remedy.

The following thanksgiving note was posted on the Nuestra Señora Bithen delos Remedios Facebook page.

On behalf of Nuestra Señora Bithen Delos Remedios, we would like to express our sincerest gratitude, first of all, to our good and gracious God for allowing us to have another successful celebration of our parish Fiesta. We would like to thank His Excellency, Bishop Ryan Jiminez, for presiding our mass, and our parish priest, Father Jayferson Baldelovar, OAR for co-presiding. We thank each and every one of our parishioners, altar servers, lectors, commentator, the choir, those who joined us physically, and for those who joined through prayer. We are extremely thankful for our sponsors, donors, Parish Council, DPS, and community members who helped in one way or another.

In the time of our current pandemic, we have our Blessed Mother, Virgin of Good Remedy, who intercedes and prays for us, regardless of the situations we find ourselves in, allowing remedy in our spirits and hearts despite interior or exterior hardships. Let’s all follow her example of leading a peaceful life and accepting God’s will.


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Julie Anne Loong

Julie Anne Loong