Holy Week 2019

The members of the Betania Foundation and the Betania Choir had many profound religious activities during Holy Week, hand in hand with the Church, offering her their support, presence and music in different parishes of the Capital City and Miranda State.

On April 14, 2019, Palm Sunday, with the repertoire of the Betania Choir they participated in the solemn Mass at Santa Rosalia Church in Caracas, accompanying Father Juan Carlos Silva. The event included a procession, blessing of the palms and prayer. At the end of the celebration, the leader of the Betania Choir, Professor Maria Auxiliadora Bianchini Leon, was invited to address a few words to the people, stressing on the importance of evangelizing, and supporting the Church and her priests. She also recalled the promise of the Blessed Virgin to her mother, the Servant of God Maria Esperanza, to bring reconciliation to Venezuela stating, “Our Lady Reconciler of All Peoples awaits us in the Sanctuary of Betania, with her message of reconciliation; first, to reconcile with Jesus, Our Lord; then with ourselves and with our families.”

On Holy Monday, they accompanied Monsignor Henry Padilla during the celebration of the Eucharist at 6:00 p.m. in La Caridad del Cobre Church, in Santa Paula, Caracas, where at the end of Mass they offered a short classical music concert. Monsignor Padilla requested: “May the Mother of Heaven always accompany you, so that you may continue your role as evangelizers and bearers of the message of peace, reconciliation and love.”

On Holy Wednesday, the parishioners of El Hatillo, in Caracas, moved the statues of the Nazarene, the Sorrowful Mother and St. John to the Bolivar Square, where the parishioners congregated to participate in an outdoor Mass, presided by His Excellency Bishop Jose de la Trinidad Valera Angulo and assisted by a large group of priests, deacons and seminarians, accompanied by the music of the Betania Choir.

On April 19, Holy Thursday, they traveled to the Sanctuary of Betania to participate at the 1:00 p.m. Mass of the Lord’s Supper and the washing of the feet. The Eucharist was celebrated by the Rector of the sanctuary, Father Jhonfer Camacho, who said, “Our God is with us, especially at times of grieving and trial.” On the same day, the celebration of the Last Supper of the Lord, the 40th anniversary of the Betania Foundation, the 38th anniversary of the Betania Choir and the birthday of the leader of the choir Maria Auxiliadora was held at the facilities of the Sugar Mill in Betania.

On Good Friday, at the Sanctuary of Betania, parishioners and members of the Betania Foundation were invited by Mother Ana to hear a talk on the Prodigal Son by Mrs. Maria Gracia Bianchini Gebran. In addition, she shared her testimony of how she saw Our Lady on March 25, 1984, and remarked, “She (Mary) has taken us to Christ, that gentle maiden, so delicate, because if it had not been for her ‘yes’, we would not have had God come down to Earth among us. He came to teach us to share, to make decisions, to have mercy on others, to share what we can with others, as in these difficult times in which many people are giving a hand to their neighbor silently, truly choosing what is righteous, a true handshake without expecting anything in return.” Afterwards, the meditation on the Seven Words, the commemoration of the Passion of the Lord, the distribution of Holy Communion and the adoration of the Holy Cross took place.

On Holy Saturday, the Betania Choir accompanied Father Diego Hernandez during the ritual of the Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord at Santa Ana Church in La Lagunita, Caracas. Father Hernandez concluded his homily by saying: “May we find the light of Christ in the darkness of our night. At the end of our lives, may we meet with this eternal light: the Christ who lives and reigns gloriously forever and ever. Amen.”

The Virgin Mary is a Treasure of Grace and of Mercy, Cause of Pride and Honor, and Refuge for the People

This year 2019, the Sanctuary of Betania was decorated on March 25th, 30th and 31st to celebrate the Annunciation of the Virgin, in the framework of the 43rd anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady Reconciler of All Peoples.

On Monday, March 25, a solemn Mass was presided over by His Excellency Bishop Georges Kahhale, Apostolic Exarch of Venezuela (Melkite Greek) and member of the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference with Father Jhonfer Camacho, Rector of the Sanctuary of Betania; Father Juan Carlos Silva, Auxiliary Judicial Vicar of the Provincial Court of Caracas and Father Orlando Gonzalez, Parish Priest of San Jose de Los Altos. Father Camacho welcomed everyone by saying that the Lord had set his eyes on this blessed land of reconciliation as a gift to Venezuela and the world. He recalled the Servant of God Maria Esperanza Bianchini and Mr. Geo Bianchini, expressing that they “bless us with their grace, strength and light, so we may continue fighting for our country, and sowing love, reconciliation and peace”. The Apostolic Exarch Kahhale said that he was grateful that Our Lady of Betania was Reconciler, because she would bring reconciliation among all religions that believe in one God, and asserted that it was a grace that she existed, because everyone longed for reconciliation among Venezuelans and Our Lady of Betania would unite them. Father Juan Carlos Silva said that they were in “a place of grace, a theological place, but even more it is a place where the human being meets the Lord through the Glorious and Immaculate Virgin Mary”. He reiterated that the site was a national sanctuary, and that the eyes of the entire republic and the world were set on it. He concluded by saying: “No one can stop the work of God and light always shines in the darkness.”

On Saturday, March 30th, members of the Betania Foundation and pilgrims participated in the Lenten Retreat given by Father Enrique Yanes at the sanctuary, which culminated with another solemn Mass for the Feast of the Annunciation. Father Yanes reflected on three key words inspired by the Virgin before the angel in the mystery of the Incarnation: Courage, “Mary assumes with courage what God is telling her.” Joy, “He who does the will of God with joy, has guaranteed his happiness and the road to success.” And availability, “Availability will lead you to salvation.”

The official celebration of the 43rd anniversary of Our Lady of Betania was on Sunday, March 31st. The day began at 8:00 a.m. with the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, a Holy Hour, the Rosary along with the procession of the statue of Our Lady Reconciler, and Mariachi. At 11:00 a.m. the Bishop of the diocese of Los Teques, Bishop Freddy Fuenmayor presided over the solemn Mass. During his homily, he reflected on the significant title of the Blessed Mother in that place, as Reconciler of Peoples and invited to have a humble attitude before God, to recognize ones sins and to reconcile with Him, with family and neighbor. He requested to entrust oneself to the Blessed Virgin under the title of Our Lady Reconciler of Peoples in the sanctuary where people go “to seek the peace and love that emanates from the open arms of Mary, our Mother, Mother of Jesus Christ, Mother of Our Lord”.

All activities were supported by the Betania Foundation and Betania Choir.

The Betania Foundation youth group present at the WYD Panama 2019

During the week of January 22nd to 27th, the World Youth Day in Panama was held with Pope Francis. The WYD was attended by a group of 25 young ones and 5 adults, representing the Betania Foundation, responsible for the diffusion of the message of Our Lady Reconciler of All Peoples and of the Servant of God Maria Esperanza Bianchini.

Since the group arrived in Panama, joy was spread through their music. During the next four days they had the opportunity to evangelize by means of singing and speaking to the hundreds of people who visited the stand of the Betania Foundation at the “Follow Me” Vocational Fair held in the Omar Recreational Park, and in interviews with the media (WYD Panama, Panama America, CB24tv, Radio Maria and TVN, among others).

They also attended the WYD Opening Ceremony with the Archbishop of Panama, the Welcoming Ceremony with the Holy Father, the Way of the Cross at Santa Maria la Antigua Field in the Cinta Costera, the Vigil with the Youth and Holy Mass for the WYD. On his arrival, the Pope made a call to be “bridge builders”, and to say Mary’s words: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word,” while also sending a special greeting to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

During his message at the Night Vigil, he highlighted that Mary “was not part of the ‘social networks’ of the time. She was not an ‘influencer’, but without wanting to, she became the most influential woman in history. With confidence, we can call Mary, ‘the influencer’”; thus the Pope called the youth to “be ‘influencers’ like Mary” and to say “let it be done”.

In the Closing Mass, presided by the Pope he said that “God is real because love is real; God is concrete because love is concrete. Indeed, this concrete manifestation of love is one of the essential elements of the life of Christians”; also indicating that the youth are not the future, “they are the present, young people are the now of God”.

Declared Servant of God

“What man lacks is trust and love in the true God. When one loves, one feels that it is not oneself who lives within; it is God who abides in us.”* Servant of God Maria Esperanza Bianchini.

On a day like today, nine years ago in the Cathedral of San Francisco de Assisi in Metuchen, New Jersey, USA, with forty-two priests, two bishops and more than a thousand people from all over the world, His Excellency Bishop Paul Bootkoski opened the process of beatification of the Servant of God Maria Esperanza Medrano Bianchini, messenger of the Virgin of Betania, declaring: “We believe that God gives us men and women as examples to show us the way to the Lord. Today we begin the cause of Maria Esperanza, a woman of faith; and we pray from this community that God recognizes her through her Church as one of her saints; and what better time to celebrate the Eucharist. Today we remember in a special way a blessed follower of Christ and an exemplary lay woman, the Servant of God Maria Esperanza Medrano Bianchini. Mary was a great and humble woman chosen by divine providence to carry the message of love, reconciliation and family unity. May her life and teachings be a model for our families.”**

* Betania Foundation. (2019). Thoughts of Maria Esperanza. November 2. Caracas. Taken from: http://mariaesperanza.org

** Betania Foundation. (2019). Previous news Maria Esperanza declared Servant of God. 01-31-2010. Caracas. Taken from: http://mariaesperanza.org

The First Meeting of the Year of The Betania Foundation in The Sanctuary of Betania

The first meeting of the year of the Betania Foundation in the Sanctuary of Betania became a beautiful day-tour in the company of the Rector of the Sanctuary Father Jhonfer Camacho; the Sisters of the Congregation Mother of the Savior, High and Eternal Priest; fifty-five members of the Emmaus Group from several areas of the country’s capital, who had decided to hold their first retreat of the year in Betania; and thirty-three members of the Betania Community of Charallave, Miranda State.

“Today God approaches our tables, and like He told Matthew, He tells us: ‘Come and follow me.´ Let us not be afraid, let us open our hearts to God and may He come to accompany us in our life, bring us his joy, that brings hope, that brings his love. May He make us capable of multiplying the love we have for each other. May He help us. May the Blessed Virgin Mary also assist us in this path.” With these words overflowing with faith and hope, Father Camacho addressed those present at the Sanctuary during his homily.

After Holy Mass, everyone went to the farm area, guided by four of the daughters of the Servant of God Maria Esperanza Bianchini: Mrs. Maria Esperanza Foley, Mrs. Maria Gracia Gebran, Mrs. Maria Coromoto Marrero and Mrs. Maria del Carmen Leon, with their respective husbands. At the sugar mill, they enjoyed having a snack and watching a video about the historic events of the sanctuary and the apparition of the Blessed Virgin in the place. Afterwards, they visited the installations, praying and reflecting on the spirituality of the Servant of God Maria Esperanza, her way of evangelizing through her example with her family, her community and hand in hand with the Church. Stories of the Bible that have an intimate relationship with the concept of the different oratories of the place were narrated. It was a day of fruitful spiritual growth, of fortifying the virtue of faith and reinforcing unity with the Holy Church.

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