St. Alphonsus Mary de Liguori Parish: The gift of 50 years

Churchgoers frequenting St. Alphonsus Mary de Liguori Parish have noticed a flurry of activities the past months all leading to the golden anniversary celebration of the parish on August 1, 2017.

 

With this year’s theme, “Grateful for our 50th … forging a renewed and stronger Christian community”, it is heartwarming to know that Magallanes residents are unselfishly devoting their time, energies as well as resources to mark the major milestone of St. Alphonsus Mary de Liguori Parish.

 

St. Alphonsus Mary de Liguori Parish was established on June 7, 1967, upon the suggestion by the first few residents of Magallanes Village led by Mrs. Corazon Arcenas and the endorsement by Msgr. Ferdinand Mempin, then parish priest of Saint Joseph the Worker in Palanan, Makati. It is interesting to note that Msgr. Mempin’s parents were some of the first residents of Magallanes Village.

 

Rufino Cardinal Santos approved the choice of St. Alphonsus Mary de Liguori as the principal patron of the proposed parish, with Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. James the Apostle as secondary patrons.

 

Ayala y Companía donated the church and rectory areas to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila. Thus, the patrons were chosen to honor the father of Don Jaime, Don Alfonso Zobel, the father of Don Enrique, Don Jacobo  (Santiago Apostol) and their great-grandmother Carmen de Ayala y Roxas.

 

On August 2, 1967, Cardinal Santos laid and blessed the cornerstone for St. Alphonsus Church on the 5,616 sq.m. lot donated by the Ayalas at Humabon Place. He also established the parish of Magallanes Village in a decree of erection signed on the same day. Originally, the parish of Magallanes included Dasmariñas Village, Magallanes Village and Forbes Park.

 

The parish flourished under the care of its pastors: Msgr. Ferdinand Mempin, Msgr. Nicanor Bautista , Msgr. Benedicto Aquino, Msgr. Ernesto Cruz,  Rev. Fr. Benito B. Tuazon with Fr. Edwin E. Mercado was Parochial Vicar who eventually also became its parish priest and Rev. Fr. Isidro T. Marinay with Fr. Richard Garrido as Parochial Vicar.

 

Unfortunately, on September 9, 2004, the church burned down. Miraculously, a large wooden image of the crucified Christ remained intact.  The original 1968 structure designed by National Artist Leandro Locsin then had to be rebuilt.  September 9, 2005 marked the groundbreaking to start construction of the new church designed by Architect Dominic Galicia.  Under the leadership of Father Benny Tuason who rallied the parishioners, the present structure was completed by 2007. Two years later, typhoon “Ondoy” would flood the interior of the church as well. These trials only proved to make the parish stronger.

 

 

This is indeed a time of remembrance and glorious celebration. When the church was but a shell of ruins after the fire, the Manila Symphony Orchestra came to hold a performance entitled Concert at the Ruins to raise funds for the rebuilding of the church over a decade ago. This time, on August 2, 2017, the 50th anniversary of the parish, the Manila Symphony Orchestra revisits the same venue—now transformed into a beautiful structure which accommodates a larger of number of parishioners assembling here for praise, prayer and thanksgiving.

 

For the past two years, the parish has been led by the dynamic team of Msgr. Claro Matt Garcia with Fr. Lorenzo Ruggiero as Parochial Vicar. Msgr. Claro Matt Garcia, reorganized the Parish Pastoral Council, revived the BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) this year with 2017 being the Year of BEC and re-focused on the Education and Social Services Ministries. Fr. Lorenzo Ruggiero, Parochial Vicar, has given several talks for spiritual nourishment. His charismatic ways make him well-liked by parishioners of all ages, especially the youth.

 

The gift of 50 years has made the parish reflect on its history and appreciate all that God has given.  And in His goodness, God continues to give. On July 27, 2017, the Vatican has declared St. Alphonsus Mary de Liguori Parish a Jubilee Church. Pilgrims shall be invited to walk through its Holy Doors from August 1, 2017 to August 1, 2018, marking the Feast of its Patron, St. Alphonsus—Doctor of the Church, Founder of the Redemptorists, Patron of Moral Theologians, devotee to the Blessed Virgin Mary and humble servant of God.