Bishop Renato Mayugba of Laoag has named the centuries-old San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish Church as a diocesan shrine with charity as its central mission.
Speaking during Mass on Thursday, September 10, the prelate said the diocese’s new shrine will not only serve as a place of devotion to God but also “devotion to people.”
“A shrine is not only a place where people pray to God but a shrine is a church that is always ready to give and to share,” Bishop Mayugba said.
“If there is no ‘caritas’ program, it is a failure. A shrine can only be a shrine if it has an outreach program,” he said.
The prelate said the shrine in Ilocos Norte’s San Nicolas town must be the “oasis” of mercy and service to the people, particularly the poor.
“May the parish continue that charitable dimension of devotion that completes the double commandment: love of God and love of neighbor,” he said.
The official declaration came nearly two months after the bishop approved a petition to elevate the parish to a diocesan shrine status.
It is the diocese’s second shrine after the La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc Church, which is now a minor basilica.
The ceremony also took place during the feast of the town’s patron saint.
The church was first constructed in 1584, the same year the town, formerly known as Caluntian, was founded by the Spanish Augustinian friars.
In 1617, it became independent and the friars placed the town under the patronage of San Nicolas, the first Augustinian saint.
Its current edifice was built in 1811 and was completed in 1830.
Bishop Mayugba said that while churches are all places of worship, a shrine “is a place where the liturgy is particularly celebrated with greater devotion.”
“A shrine that does not celebrate a beautiful liturgy betrays its calling,” he said.