|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
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
|Fr. Nielsen LC offers the Eucharistic sacrifice|
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
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 Source and Summit on 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.
felt like we were in Heaven,” described Kitchie Pingol. “I
didn’t want it to end!”
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.”
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.
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
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
Would the hikers do it again?
“Yes, yes, yes, I would.”
“When’s the next one?”
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!”