Clarifications re article on Lourdes Grotto
We would like to take strong exception to the article titled “The lady behind Bulacan’s miraculous grotto” (Lifestyle, 5/12/15). The article was based on the self-serving narrative of our eldest sister, Marietta Holmgren, on her role in the history of the Lourdes Grotto in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.
The article tends to give the false impression that all is well in the Lourdes Grotto, when in fact, it is not. Allow us to make a true rendition of the relevant facts:
- The Lourdes Grotto property is owned by the five daughters of spouses Horacio and Anita Guanzon, not just by one daughter, Holmgren, who portrays herself as the sole heir.
- It was not Holmgren who introduced the school and orphanage, or the canteen, souvenir shop, flea market and parking lot at the grotto complex. All these revenue-earning enterprises were established by our father to help support the maintenance of the grotto and the Church construction; the orphanage was established by an Italian woman, Lea Berretta, who eventually turned it over to the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Hearts who in turn put up and operates the school to this day.
- It was our parents who developed the grotto complex to what it is today. By the time of our mother’s death, the first floor of the two-story church was already complete. So was the shell structure of the second floor; only the tower and interior had still to be done.
- The miraculous crucified figure of Jesus Christ carved from camphor wood was hand-carried from Taipei by our father, not by Holmgren.
- The concelebrated Mass that is scheduled to be held on the 50th (not 52nd) anniversary of the Lourdes Grotto Shrine is not sanctioned by the bishop of the Diocese of Malolos. The bishop, in fact, has forbidden the celebration of Masses at the grotto churches, after he found out that the place had been desecrated by the celebration there of liturgical services conducted by married priests.
- We have proposed the donation of the grotto church to the Diocese of Malolos so that the sacraments, liturgies and ministries of the Church may be administered properly.
- However, Holmgren opposes this, despite a consensus among the other four siblings favoring the donation. On the other hand, the Diocese of Malolos has been reluctant to accept the donation because of the trouble Holmgren might create during her watch. In view of this, the four of us moved to reorganize the board of trustees of the foundation that operates the grotto to remove Holmgren as the self-proclaimed president.
These clarifications are meant to disabuse the minds of the readers about Holmgren’s role in the development and operation of the Lourdes Grotto.
—ROSALINDA G. ANTIPORDA, chair and president, Grotto Shrine Foundation Inc., 11 Mt. Semeru St., Filinvest 1, Batasan Hills, Quezon City
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