Friday, July 10, 2009

History of San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish

The Church of the Resurrection

Before the San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish came to be, locals of Barangay Culiat celebrated masses in a small chapel on the grounds of Culiat High School, under the spiritual guidance of Reverend Father Eugenio E. Robles. In 1983, several locals from Barangay Culiat decided that a new place of worship was needed to support their growing Catholic community.

A group of dedicated Catholics called the Prime Movers spearheaded the project of constructing a building that would serve as their new place of worship. Mrs. Pura Ledesma offered her property in Tierra Verde Homes and it was there that the new church would be built.

Mr. Moises Pardo, Jr. led the creation of the Culiat Pastoral Council on March 4, 1983. Committees were formed and a request to position the new building as a parish was sent. News about the building of a new parish spread through fund raising drives and information campaigns via television by the late Mr. Dino Aguirre and through radio by Ms. Nova Villa.

In order to have a juridical personality, the Culiat Pastoral Council was incorporated on March 20, 1983. This was drafted by Atty. Rene Kare. On April 3, 1983, the Culiat Pastoral Diary was created where the Catholic locals posted developments.

Finally on May 8, 1983, the first Sunday Mass was held at the new parish, The Church of the Resurrection. Several fund raising projects were organized as building permits were secured. A group of energetic and enterprising Catholics started their labor of love on January 15, 1984 by fixing the church’s structure. The first inaugural mass was held on February 12, 1984 at the old chapel in Culiat High School, the old site of The Church of the Resurrection. This was officiated by Father Thomas Nechikat, O.S.A. who became the newly appointed parish priest. On Easter Sunday of March 1984, the old chapel in Culiat High School was formally closed and the image of the resurrected Jesus Christ was transferred to the new site.

On April 8, 1984, the Culiat Pastoral Council elected a new set of Board of Directors and Officers with Mr. Napoleon Abueva as President. Ms. Luz Hizon supervised the funding for the chapel, sacristy, office and the convent. Father Robles allowed celebration of baptismal rites on June 16, 1986.

Birth of San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish

Barangay Culiat was proclaimed a parish on August 15, 1987 with the following territorial jurisdiction: areas bounded on the north-south western boundaries of the Parish of Our Lady of Consolation and creek between Tierra Verde and Philand Village, on the east by proposed Congressional Avenue Extension, on the south by the western perimeter fence of Tandang Sora Avenue, and on the west by Visayas Avenue, including the entire area of Old Balara.

When Father Thomas left the country, Father Lauro "Larry" Toledo replaced him as parish priest. On August 21, 1987, the Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) followed-up with Msgr. T. Ramirez to request for a new Patron Saint. In honor of the first Filipino Saint, the new parish was eventually renamed SAN LORENZO RUIZ PARISH (SLRP).

On September 4, 1987, during the high mass celebrated by the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, the Decree naming the church San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish was read by Msgr. Alfonso Caparas, Vicar Forane. Father Larry was also installed as the new parish priest.

Since then, the SLRP became busy with the creation of new activities. Mandated organizations like the Mother Butler Guild, Apostleship of Prayer, Legion of Mary, Knights of Columbus, Marriage Encounter, and others were formed. Father Larry went around the 42 areas covered by the parochial boundaries to celebrate mass. With the empowerment of the laity, the PPC was strengthened with its then President, Dr. Eusebio Paglinawan, Jr. who embarked on many projects like Pamaskong Handog and participated in national and local elections through the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV).

Bigger and More Active Parish Church

The dream of building a bigger church structure never ceased. Fund raising projects were organized by the Knights of Columbus as the number of parishioners continued to increase.

On March 11, 1990, a ceremony was held for the creation of a bigger, more beautiful SLRP Church. Several parishioners offered their services in order to prepare for the construction of the new building. Through the supervision and funding of benefactor Ms. Luz Hizon, the new building was finished in 1992. Sadly, before the new SLRP Church was blessed and inaugurated, Father Larry was transferred to another parish.

From 1994 to 1996, Father Rolando “Rollie” Petronio, the appointed parish priest during that time, initiated the establishment of the Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC). To intensify spiritual formation, Sunday Masses were conducted in depressed areas, assisted by Father Joseph Visperas and Father Paul Karedan, guest priest from India. Church movements were started including the Parish Renewal Experience (PREX).

Under the able leadership of PPC President Aty. Fernando Mangubat, Jr., Catholic Life in the Spirit Seminars (CLSS) were conducted twice a year and weekly Charismatic Prayer Meetings were started with the guidance of the Bukas Loob sa Diyos Covenant Community. He also established the Pastoral Care Foundation of SLRP Inc. to raise funds for the construction of a new multi-purpose building but was later shifted in helping to repair, upkeep, and improve the church and its facilities.

During the last year of Father Rollie’s incumbency, Ms. Catalina Feliciano was elected President of the PPC and she continued the projects started by her predecessor. Guest priests were invited to assist the parish priest during liturgical celebrations. After his term, Father Rollie was replaced by Father Percival “Val” de Vera.

Father Val arrived on November 15, 1996 at the parish but he was formally installed on February 15, 1997. Ms. Feliciano continued organizing events for the parish like Pamaskong Handog, Alay kay San Lorenzo Ruiz. She also started a monthly newsletter and assisted Father Val during the activities for the Jubilee Year 2000. She spearheaded a two-day planning session held at Mariapolis, Tagaytay City, where she and her team formed the Vision, Mission, and Goal of SLRP. Among the projects during the planning session was the creation of the three Parish Pastoral Councils: (1) Planning Council with Mr. Delfy Geraldez as president; (2) Implementing and Coordinating Council with Ms. Cecil Jimenez as president; and (3) Finance Council with Ms. Connie Castro as president. The officers for the councils were installed on September 21, 1997.

Father Val was transferred to another parish in October 2000 and Father Alex Ver took over and served as parish priest until June 2001.

SLRP under the Diocese of Novaliches

From June 2001 to September 2002, Father Nelson Orqueta became the fourth parish priest of SLRP. Aside from the traditional liturgical celebrations, he intensifed the spiritual formation of parishioners. During his tenure, the decree dividing the Archdiocese of Manila into six dioceses took efect. The 36 areas to the left of Tandang Sora Avenue were placed under the Diocese of Cubao, while the remaining six areas to the right side of Tandang Sora Avenue were placed under the Diocese of Novaliches.

In September 28, 2001, a petition letter signed by the SLRP parishioners to have a dialogue with Bishop Soc Villegas was sent in the hopes of reclaiming the divided areas. However, nothing happened to the request and in September 2002, Father Emmanuel “Pong” del Rosario took over as parish priest.

Father Pong, a young and newly ordained priest, was assigned as the sixth parish priest of SLRP. He instituted reforms, embarked on several projects to improve the church. He held unique liturgical celebrations, seminars, spiritual formations and actively pursued the establishment of the BEC and PREX. The SLRP, though it became much smaller, became more alive, encouraging others to be active members in the parish, including those whose areas were divided. Father Pong also designed and launched the new SLRP Logo and revived the publication of the parish newsletter. Assisted by a one-council set of officers headed by Mr. Al Yap, they formed the 14-member Advisory Council which was initially organized to assist Father Pong regarding the history and past activities done by the parish. An evaluation and planning conference was held in Baguio from February 4 to 6, 2005 to formulate the Vision and Mission Statement of the Parish.

When Father Pong started his stewardship in SLRP, the wounds of segregation within the parish was still fresh owing to its division into two areas - the bigger area becoming part of the Diocese of Cubao and the smaller area becoming part of the newly created Diocese of Novaliches where the parish now belonged. With the handing down of the Canonical Decree, 37 areas of the parish to the south of Tandang Sora Avenue were annexed to the Parish of Mt. Carmel in Project 6 while the remaining 5 areas were left with San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish. It was to the credit of Father Pong that he continued to welcome wholeheartedly all parishioners who were disenfranchised and opened the parish to all who would like to serve the parish. In time , they returned and served in the parish. The parish started to grow once more and people became more involved in its activities. Inspite of the reduction in size, it never became a barrier for people to make the parish alive. Soon, the parish grew with its rich liturgical celebrations, community activities and devotion to the faith.

Buhay, Mulat, Kumikilos

Under the stewardship of Father Pong, there were many visible changes, projects and reforms implemented in the parish. First among these was the beautification of the church. With the support of the parishioners and lay leaders, the Baptistry and the Altar of San Lorenzo Ruiz were erected and eventually blessed by Bishop Soc Villegas in September 2003. Over the years, there were other improvements in the church including the new sound system, paintings dedicated to the Holy Trinity and to the four Evangelists, the Garden of the Unborn, the Garden of the Resurrection, the Altar of Saint Joseph and the Adoraton Chapel. More than the physical improvements, liturgical celebrations became more colorful. Combining his modern style with the conservative traditions, Father Pong put more of his time in the training and disciplining of the different ministries involved in liturgical worship. He introduced the High Mass as a regular Sunday feature at the 10:00am and 6:30pm schedules. Area masses were revived as a regular activity during special occasions like the fiesta and May Flower festivities. Colorful traditions and church rituals on Holy Week, Parish Fiesta and Christmas gave life to liturgical and community celebrations. In additon, the church began to take a central role in outreach projects such as the Christmas Giving Tree, Parish Family Day, and Parish Outreach.

In social outreach, the Mothers’ Butler Guild undertook a number of livelihood projects. These included the Dressmaking and Hotel and Restaurant Management (HRM) seminars for the parishioners. With the PPC, the parish organized fund raising projects such as the Tianggehan sa San Lorenzo and Baratillo sales. Through the Knights of Columbus, the Heart Alert project was launched to encourage health consciousness among the parishioners.

The Youth also had their different projects such as the SPA (Songs, Prayers and Adoraton) or Taize, Summer Art Workshops and the Summer Sportsfest, more popularly known as the AKA or parish without borders.

Under his term, Father Pong took great effort in uniting the parish. He allowed PREX to resume in December 2004. He led in two key strategic parish activities. The first was the three-day seminar worshop in June 2003 held in Antipolo where the Parish Pastoral Council was formed with Kuya Al Yap as the PPC Coordinator and Ate Cecile Jimenez as head of the Finance Council. The second was the parish evaluation and planning conference in February 2005 where the vision and mission statements of the parish were crafted. In June 5, 2007, after serving in the parish for almost five years, Father Pong bid farewell as he took on his new assignment as the parish priest of the Parish of the Epiphany in Camarin, Caloocan.

Coming of Age

In that same month, the new steward in the person of Father Bienvenido “Luke” Dobles, who was then on his twelfth year in the priesthood, arrived in the parish. He was installed on December 9, 2007 in a formal ceremony officiated by the Most Reverend Father Antonio R. Tobias, the Bishop of Novaliches. He took on his responsibilities as the seventh parish priest of SLRP. Together with his installation, Father Luke formally inducted the new officers of the Parish Pastoral Council led by Kuya Toti and Ate Cora Mangubat as Chaircouple. He was the former parish priest of San Isidro Labrador in Capri, Novaliches.

Father Luke wasted no time in getting down to work. He conducted numerous meetings with the different ministries and organizatons. As a formator, his main focus are on spiritual formation and the building of the parish community as Church. His first project was to let the people know, especially the parishioners, of their parish history. This was done through a narration using audio-visuals. SLRP’s rich history was presented in all Sunday masses over a four-week period immediately prior to the parish fiesta in 2007.

With his thrust on “being Church”, Father Luke has been at the forefront of activities that helped develop the spirituality of the parishioners. He is active in both area and parish activities, such as devotional processions, street masses and the pilgrimage to Antipolo. In August 2008, the parish launched its Sunday School catechetical classes with the objective to inculcate the basic church teachings to children. He also introduced the Parish Night where parish workers come together and enjoy themselves while participating in songs, dances and plays organized by the different ministries and organizations.

Social services, politcal awareness and restorative justice endeavors began to prosper. Substantive involvement in the Barangay Elections of 2007 were done through seminars and political fora held in the parish. The visit to the New Bilibid Prison in February 2008 gave a chance for the volunteer parishioners to interact with prisoners in Muntinlupa. The Pondo ng Pinoy, the diocesan-wide outreach for the marginalized society, was launched on August 31, 2008.

During his tenure, the parish celebrated its coming of age, it’s 21st founding anniversary in September 2008. The parish had its new sacristy and oratory blessed by Bishop Tobias. For the first time in the history of SLRP, the Youth Ministry presented a drama on the life of our patron saint, San Lorenzo Ruiz.

In May 2009, the SSDM launched its own Hapag-asa feeding program, where about 30 malnourished children from our marginalized communities were fed lunch daily for six months, as part of its commitment to help alleviate the conditions of the urban poor in the parish. This was followed by a second feeding program in March 2010 with more than 60 children enrolled in the program.

In April 2010, the Parish Pastoral Council had its new chaircouple in the persons of Kuya Cesar and Ate Mayette Tiongson. Immediately the new PPC had its hands full with a number of projects and activities. Foremost in its order of battle was the historic automated elections of May 2010 and the parish's strong involvement, through its PPCRV arm, in ensuring honest, orderly and peaceful elections.

As an administrator, Father Luke also brought order to the finances of the parish where strong control and disciplined management of expenses helped pay off the parish debts in a year’s time.

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