STOCKBRIDGE, MA — They needed blankets to drape over their coats.
It was unseasonably colder on Sunday in Stockbridge.
But these Filipinos boarded buses anyway to make their yearly pilgrimage.
“My wife said during communion, she saw the priest’s hands trembling,” said Deacon Cesar Sarmiento.
“It was so cold, it was in the twenties and you are in an open-air,” said Chuchi Calingasan, pilgrimage organizer.
Ms. Chuchi, as she is known in the community, has been organizing this pilgrimage from Jersey City, New Jersey for 20 years.
She and the other Filipinos with her, are among the estimated 20,000 pilgrims who attended the outdoor mass for the feast of the Divine Mercy, which is celebrated by Roman Catholics around the world the weekend after Easter Sunday.
But this trip carries a bit more meaning for Ms. Chuchi. This past year has been extra challenging. Just a few days before Easter, she was facing the possibility of homelessness.
“I was having some problems and in my room, I have a picture of Divine Mercy and I look at him and said I know you are the only one who can help me so I don’t want to ask people, I don’t want to ask anybody but I am asking you. I don’t know where to get the solution.
I went to sleep and in the morning I found the solution.”
So, fueled by her unwavering faith, Ms. Chuchi once again prepared for her pilgrimage.
But Deacon Cesar points out the three-hour bus trip is also something they look forward to.
“When we are together with people from our own town, our own parish, we are a small community. And it brings us closer and you know with Filipinos, everything is a picnic. At the bus, we have food, we share food, and they’re singing, and we have raffles and so it’s a community event while we’re on our way.”
Some say, there in those buses, is where faith exists.