THE FRIARS AS PASTORS: The 9 Parishes under the Province of Santo Niño de Cebu – Philippines
Date Published: July 15, 2017
Nuestra Señora de Gracia Parish (Archdiocese of Manila)
The Parish of Nuestra Señora de Gracia in Guadalupe Viejo, Makati City is the lone parish being administered by the friars of the Province in the Archdiocese of Manila because the Immaculate Conception Parish in Intramuros, Manila is under the friars of the Vicariate of the Orient.
Its history started in June 1970 when the then Archbishop of Manila, Rufino S. Cardinal Santos, DD invited the friars back to their monastery in Guadalupe Viejo. The old church ruins used to be a shrine dedicated to San Nicolas de Tolentino frequented by the Chinese and to the Virgen de Guadalupe frequented by both the Spaniards and indios alike. Because of its sorry state, the friars with help from generous parishioners, initiated the re-roofing, reconstruction and renovation of the church ruins. It was during the term Fr. Rodolfo M. Arreza, OSA as Prior of the Augustinian Community of Guadalupe that the reconstruction process of the church was finished. The friars focused next on organizing the community of the faithful who were former parishioners of the Saints Peter and Paul Parish in Poblacion, Makati and also of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Parish in Guadalupe Nuevo, Makati. The first parish priest was the late Fr. Arsenio C. Pioquinto, OSA while the current one is Fr. Tomas C. Banayag, Jr., OSA.
Today, Guadalupe Viejo is a vibrant urban residential community that is home to many transient office workers and employees but also to old families from parts of Pampanga and Bulacan. Highly traditional in their religious beliefs and practices and yet surrounded by so many skyscrapers, the faithful of Guadalupe Viejo also counts the seminarians, both minor and major, of the Archdiocese of Manila as its territory includes the Our Lady of Guadalupe Minor Seminary and the conciliar San Carlos Seminary as well as the Mother House and Generalate of the Missionaries of the Holy Child. A convent and school of the Agustinas Recoletas, Colegio de Santa Rosa, is also within the territory of the parish.
Santo Nino de Cebu Parish (Archdiocese of Cebu)
The Augustinians founded the parish church of Santa Teresa de Avila in Poblacion, Talisay City during the Spanish colonial period but it was later ceded to the secular clergy of the Archdiocese of Cebu. In 1985, the Augustinians returned to Talisay – this time in Barangay Mohon to administer a parish under the “patronage” of Cebu’s beloved Santo Niño. The late Fr. Ambrosio J. Galindez, OSA was assigned as the first parish priest. The parish covers four barangays: Mohon, Biasong, Lawaan, Pooc and a part of Linao.
The parish territory is home to an Augustinian friary, an international novitiate house of the friars, a monastery of the Augustinian nuns, a convent of the Augustinian Sisters of Divine Love and a convent of the Servite Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows.
Today different subdivisions and town houses have mushroomed within the parish territory but the friars, led by the current parish priest, Fr. Jonas M. Mejares, OSA, are more than willing to pasture the growing number of Catholic faithful in this parish.
San Jose Parish (Archdiocese of Jaro)
In 1868, the parish of San Jose in Iloilo City was given to the Augustinians in exchange for the church of Jaro which was chosen to be the cathedral of the then newly-created diocese (later archdiocese) of the same name. It is actually the only parish of the Augustinians from the Spanish colonial period that they continue to administer until today. Adjacent to the parish church is the old convent made of wood and a charity school named after the patron of the parish – San Jose Catholic School. Fr. Raymundo T. Alcayaga, OSA is the current parish priest.
The parish church is home to an image of Señor Santo Niño whose arrival in Iloilo City in 1968 signaled the start of what is now Dinagyang Festival. The late Fr. Ambrosio J. Galindez, OSA is the acknowledged Father of Dinagyang.
Mother of Good Counsel Parish (Diocese of San Pablo)
Mother of Good Counsel Parish was originally named Saint Jerome Emiliani Parish after the saintly founder of the Clerks Regular of Somasca whose members first administered the parish. In 1998, it was changed to its present name. This parish is one of the two parishes served by the Augustinians in the Diocese of San Pablo in Laguna Province. The territory of the parish includes five villages in Barangay San Vicente, San Pedro, Laguna: Chrysanthemum Village, Olympia I Village, Olympia IV and VI Village, Adelina II and IIA Village and Stone Crest Village. The first parish priest was Fr. Rodolfo P. Sicio, OSA and the current one is Fr. Danilo M. Carido, OSA.
Santo Niño de Cebu Parish (Diocese of San Pablo)
The Augustinian friars immediately expanded to Laguna after the creation of the new Province of Santo Niño de Cebu – Philippines in 1984. Headed by the energetic Fr. Rodolfo P. Sicio, OSA, the friars started to build their only educational institution in the Southern Tagalog region and adjacent to it they built what is now the parish church of Santo Niño de Cebu. Its longest serving parish priest, Fr. Danilo C. Dagsaan, OSA beautified the church interiors and exteriors while the retablo was finished during the term of Fr. Edgar A. Polotan, OSA. Fast becoming a favorite wedding venue of many millennial couples because of its beautiful interiors and accessibility, the church is also home to the official replica of Señor Santo Niño de Cebu in Luzon area. The present parish priest is Fr. Armando M. Dayao, OSA.
Mother of Perpetual Help Parish (Diocese of Surigao)
After the Divine Word Missionaries left Socorro sometime in the year 2000, the Diocese of Surigao asked the Augustinians to consider accepting this new mission. In 2001, Fr. Sisinio A. Paderog, OSA became the first Augustinian pastor of a small Catholic population in the area.
Socorro is Spanish for help and so the parish patroness is She who always helps her children in distress – the Mother of Perpetual Help. The original icon of the Mother of Perpetual Help was formerly under Augustinian care but in 1869, Pope Pius IX gave it to the Redemptorists who zealously propagated devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary under this title. The Augustinians although they have lost custody of this miraculous icon continue to propagate devotion to her in this remote island parish that can only be reached through boat from mainland Surigao and other nearby islands. The friars were able to build a new church, convent and parish hall in a lot strategically located near the port. The present parish priest is Fr. Elmer J. Lendo, OSA.
Saint Anne Parish (Diocese of Surigao)
Like the Mother of Perpetual Help Parish in Socorro, Santa Ana Parish was also started by the Divine Word Missionaries. In 2010, it was accepted by the Augustinian friars as an extension of their Socorro mission assigning as pioneer missionaries Fr. Benjamin C. Unabia, Jr., OSA, Fr. Leonard B. Realiza, OSA and Fr. Ronald P. Siaga, OSA who was then on pastoral exposure. The friars built a new convent finished in 2016 during the term of Fr. Fernando S. Cleopas, OSA. Majority of the people in Burgos are Catholics and they are known for their generosity to their Augustinian pastors. The present parish priest is Fr. Donato E. Ellezar, OSA who is also the superior of the Augustinian Residence in Burgos, Surigao del Norte.
Saint Augustine of Hippo Parish (Diocese of Sorsogon)
In 2005, Fr. Arlon M. Vergara, OSA was sent in Barangay Bagacay, Gubat, Sorsogon to start the Augustinian mission that 9 years later will become what is now the Saint Augustine Parish in Barangay Cogon – San Ignacio. The construction of the present parish church was started during the term of Fr. Tomas C. Banayag, Jr., OSA in 2012 and the church was consecrated in 2014 by Bishop Arturo M. Bastes, SVD, DD of Sorsogon. These friars who labored much for the evangelization of the people in the parish are following the footsteps of the great Fray Alonso Jimenez de Carmona, OSA who in 1570 planted the cross in Sorsogon soil and erected what is probably the first Catholic chapel in the island of Luzon. Continuing the legacy of these missionary giants are Fr. Wilboy D. Bracamonte, OSA who is the present parish priest as well as Fr. Oswald F. Duran, OSA and Rev. Cyril Jeth N. Tagalog, OSA.
Saint Augustine of Hippo Parish (Diocese of Bayombong)
In 1739, the Spanish Augustinian friars started the evangelization of what is now the city of Bayombong in Nueva Vizcaya province. The missions were eventually transferred to the Dominicans who labored in the province until the end of the Spanish occupation. In 2012, Augustinian friars returned not in Bayombong but in Saguday town in the province of Quirino but still under the ecclesiastical territory of the Diocese of Bayombong. Frs. Sisinio A. Paderog, OSA and Tarquin C. Gamao, OSA pioneered the mission in Saguday where they were later joined by Fr. Arvin C. Salceda, OSA. In 2015, Bishop Ramon C. Villena of Bayombong canonically erected Saint Augustine of Hippo Parish officially separating the spiritual administration of this town from the Saint Mark Parish in Cabarroguis town. Many nominal Catholics and even adherents of other Christian denominations returned to the Catholic fold after the friars started administering the parish. In 2015, a new convent was built and by 2016, Fr. Exuper G. Lumintac, OSA was assigned as the new parish priest. (Rev. Fr. John Paul Mabanta, OSA)