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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Toward the Heights!
Young Filipinos hike in the spirit of Pier Giorgio Frassati and John Paul II

At the Summit
At the Pico de Loro summit

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, a young Italian known for his avid devotion to both God and hiking, used to constantly motivate his friends in their spiritual and outdoor excursions with the motto “Toward the Heights!” 

On July 28, 2012, Frassati’s motto was taken up by group of young Filipinos. They were inspired by his example and also wanted to literally follow in the footsteps of the late Pope John Paul II. The hike would culminate in a Mass on the summit, celebrated by Fr.Eric Nielsen, LC.  

One of the hike’s organizers, Philip Peckson, remarked, “I’ve always enjoyed hiking, but this one was particularly inspired by then Bishop Karol Wojtyla´s outdoor Masses celebrated with young people.” 

A Facebook events page was created to generate enthusiasm, and in the end, a group totaling 17 young men and women would trek up Pico de Loro (“Parrot’s Peak”).  

“I wanted to do something different, so when I found out about the hike I was full of excitement,” said Vijay Shroff. 

Others had spiritual motives for completing the hike, such as co-organizer Gab Dimacali. Like Blessed Pier Giorgio, Gab wanted “to find God [in] the mountains, including the great company…[of] kindred souls that are seeking a different relationship with God.” 

Fr. Eric was very happy to accompany the group as a fellow hiker and as a spiritual father. “These sorts of activities are great opportunities to gather young people together in a Christ-centered context where they will be particularly open to God.
The Eucharist
Fr. Nielsen LC offers the Eucharistic sacrifice
Taking people out of their ordinary contexts, putting the noise of the world aside for a bit, and engaging in an activity involving some sacrifice, but always directed towards a goal, is always a good thing…John Paul II, Pier Giorgio Frasatti, and numerous others have confirmed this.”

At long last, after many pit stops and re-groupings, the hikers made it to the peak. What did they feel as they arrived to the top?



“An overwhelming, surreal, unbelievable dream.”


“Indescribable joy, stillness, company…”

“Tired, of course.” 

Whatever the hikers felt once they made it to the top, they began to prepare for the climax of the trip.


“What better way to celebrate our shared accomplishment than with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?” commented Cathy Floro, a lay consecrated woman of Regnum Christi who was part of the group. 

Some apostles among
The Mass
The Source and Summit on the summit
them even extended invitations to other climbers to celebrate the Eucharist. “I was particularly pleased to see that at least a of couple of ´outsiders´ to our group joined us for Mass,” commented Fr. Eric.

The summit Mass was what motivated most of the climbers from the start.  It was truly the high point of the hike, making the climb completely worth the effort. 

“It felt like we were in Heaven,” described Kitchie Pingol. “I didn’t want it to end!” 

Jet de la Rosa recalled, “At Mass, in one of my many quiet moments of reflection, I knew that we have with us the Summit, the Eucharist.” 

After receiving the "Source and Summit of the Faith" on the summit of Pico de Loro, and also enjoying a meal of croissants, corned beef with shiitake mushrooms, tuna, cheese, and home-baked cookies, the hikers began the descent down the mountain. It was not unlike the climb to the summit, with the presence of God very tangible to the hikers, even amidst gray skies and muddy trails. 

“Never have I felt safer in the dark, under the rain, by the woods, in the wild,” reflected de la Rosa. “Despite the grueling six-hour descent merged with all the possible inconveniences, wet socks included, I strangely found myself very much at peace. I thought, it must be the company. It must be our singing. It must be our sustained teamwork. It must be the Lord.” 

Each person in the group made a personal effort to keep up the positive spirit, and in turn, Christ was very present among them. 

Although, humanly speaking, the conditions of the hike were not ideal -- the weather wasn’t perfect and the view at the peak of the mountain was obscured by fog -- “these were the conditions that God allowed for us," reflected Fr. Eric. "Therefore they were good." 

“God gave an infinitely much better view,” added Dimacali, “the view of His Son living in the cheerfulness and charity exhibited by co-hikers, amidst darkness, rain, physical pain, long hours, and occasional feelings of having lost the way.” 

Would the hikers do it again? 


“Yes, yes, yes, I would.”

“In a heartbeat.”

“When’s the next one?” 

It looks like the spirit of Frassati and John Paul II—the spirit of bringing souls to the Summit—will continue bringing many more people “Toward the Heights!”




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