A Narrative Backgrounder
It all started when the very active Sis. Nida Ruiz, (former WAF Cebu Archdiocesan President and former WAF Philippines National President) who, that time was an incumbent WAF International Board of Trustee, was called back to heaven by the Lord and Our Lady in the year 2013. It was then unanimously decided upon by the International Board to appoint Bro. Reynald Andales (who was then the incumbent WAF Philippines National President) to replace her vacant seat in the International Board of Trustees of the World Apostolate of Fatima.
During the International Board of Trustees Meeting in the year 2014 in Koclirov, Czech Republic, wherein Bro. Reynald attended as his first attendance to the board, the possibility of erecting a Capelinha Replica in every continent was opened up in order to further promote the devotion to Our Lady of Fatima and propagate the authentic Message of Fatima. When Bro. Reynald returned home from this meeting, the search for the ideal location and lot donor for the future replica – the first in Asia and the only one in the Philippines, began.
“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.” (Philippians 4:6) Accompanied by much prayer, it was then disseminated to all Arch/Diocesan divisions of the WAF Philippines this search for a donor who can donate at least 2 hectares of land for the purpose of constructing the Capelinha de Fatima Replica in our country. The first prospective donor offered a 2-hectare lot located in Compostela, Cebu. Another donor offered to donate a lot located in Davao City. Another one offered a lot in Mantalongon, Dalaguete, Cebu. All prospect lots were subjected to site visits.
The search for the ideal lot location went on for four (4) more years and in the year 2018 when siblings Fr. Lyndon Ruiz and Sr. Mary Lorenz Ruiz, SAP first degree cousins of the late Nida Ruiz, requested for a meeting with both Reynald and Debra Andales, (Reynald, still an incumbent International Board of Trustee and Debra as the new WAF Philippines National President). Sr. Lorenz narrated that during the Fatima Pilgrimage they had in the year 2016, Sis. Debra mentioned to her about the desire to build a replica of the Capelinha in the Philippines and that they were looking for a lot donor. The good sister prayed for this in front of the image of Our Lady of Fatima in the original Capelinha and upon returning home, relayed to Fr. Lyndon this intention. It took two (2) years for the Balili-Ruiz Family to finally come up with the decision to offer a chunk off their 10-hectare lot located in the mountains of San Remigio and give 3 hectares for the Capelinha. Ave Maria!
After the Centennial Pilgrim Image Visit and Rosary Crusade in the parishes of Bantayan Island in October of 2018, the WAF Cebu EXECOM, accompanied by Fr. Lyndon purposely made a stop in the roadside of Lambusan Bridge to view the location of the lot that they were offering for the Capelinha. Why only at the roadside? Because there was still no road network going to the site at that time. The WAF Cebu Spiritual Director in the person of Msgr. Ruben Labajo also viewed the site from the roadside on a separate date. With his approval and the WAF EXECOM’s consensus, it was decided that this was the one!
Exactly a year after on October 17, 2019, the decision was made, to establish a foundation who will take charge of the construction, management and maintenance of the soon to be Capelinha Replica – the Tres Pastorinhos de Fatima Foundation, Inc. The foundation’s incorporators is composed of clergy of the Archdiocese of Cebu and WAF Cebu leaders, namely: Msgr. Ruben Labajo, Msgr. Roger Fuentes, Fr. Lyndon Ruiz, Fr. Felipe Diacosta, Fr. Moenil Lapa, Sr. Lorenz Ruiz, SAP, Reynald Andales, Debra Andales, Minda Mondejar, Edita Cantilado, Maria Esperanza Buscas, Socrates Bacus, Antonio “Boyie” Mansueto II and Atty. Romeo Villarante, headed by His Excellency Archbishop Jose Palma as the Foundation President.
Finally, on January 28, 2020 the actual inspection of the lot happened with Fr. Lyndon Ruiz, Bro. Reynald Andales, Mayor Mariano Martinez, Sr. Lorenz Ruiz, SAP, Tacup Barangay Officials and other companion walking on an uncharted path upwards to the mountainous site. The good mayor saw how difficult it was to reach the place without a road network, how much more that the date of the groundbreaking was already set on Feb. 20, 2020. Mayor Martinez decided right then and there that the Municipality of San Remigio will support this project of the Archdiocese of Cebu, first by establishing a road network. And true to his word, he immediately instructed the Municipal Engineer who was also present during the inspection, to prepare the document to be signed by the lot owners whose properties will be traversed by the proposed road going up to the site. And indeed Our Lady interceded, in a matter of twenty (20) days after the inspection, the bulldozer reached the site, just in time for the groundbreaking! Ave Maria!
The groundbeaking ceremonies was done on February 20, 2020 (02-20-2020), which was also the feast day of the two (2) shepherd saints – St. Jacinta Marto and St. Francisco Marto. The eucharistic celebration was presided by Archbishop Palma together with nine (9) other priests. A month after the groundbreaking, the pandemic started and lockdowns were put in place.