By Rev. Alde Bureros, SSS
As early as January 2016, the Province of Our Lady of the Assumption (POLA) had set off with enthused anticipation its upcoming 60th Foundation anniversary in August 2017. The theme for this big celebration is “60 Years of Shaping Eucharistic Communities and Parishes”. Ever grateful to our Source, Jesus Himself, our Eucharistic Lord, through the intercession of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament and the guidance of our Holy Founder, St. Peter Julian Eymard, we become what we are now. Amidst the challenges of our world today, we constantly exert conscious effort to “make our parishes into authentic communities shaped by the Eucharist source and center of their life…” (RL 41).
Looking back at 1957, when the first Blessed Sacrament missionaries arrived in Sta. Cruz Church, Manila, the Eucharistic flame had been lit in this part of the world, and keeping it afire has been the task of and the challenge for many people, both religious and lay collaborators alike. Together with the later Sacramentino religious, they laid the groundwork in transforming the parish of Sta. Cruz into a de facto Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, where the Eucharist and the adoration of the Lord as its prolongation were given utmost importance.
His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, the former archbishop of Manila, gave this affirmation of the Congregation’s ministry at Sta. Cruz Parish: “Since 1957, the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament fathers and brothers has administered the Parish of Sta. Cruz and has taken care of the pastoral needs of the community. They [the Blessed Sacrament fathers and brothers] have instilled in the people who frequent this historical church the devotion and love to Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. Their availability to hear confessions and to pray with the people before the Blessed Sacrament have given flesh to the unfathomable mercy and abiding presence of Jesus”.
From the single foundation in Sta. Cruz Church, the Province has grown to 16 Communities, 1 Mission Station and 14 Parishes. Thus, with the 60 grace-filled years of shaping Eucharistic parishes and communities, we are called, as put forth by St. John Paul II, “to remember the past with gratitude, to live the present with enthusiasm, and to look forward to the future with confidence”.
In order to make our 60th Foundation anniversary more meaningful and relevant, the Province had launched certain events which commenced in August 2016 and culminated in August 2017.
The Grand Day: August 15, 2017 - Feast of Our Lady of the Assumption
The Mass started a few minutes pass 10:00 a.m. with Most Rev. Sofronio A. Bancud, SSS, D.D., Bishop of Cabanatuan, as presider and homilist.
August 15, 2017 marked the multi-celebration of:
- the 60th Foundation Anniversary of POLA;
- the 25th Religious Profession Anniversary of Fr. Melchor “Choy” Castañeda, Fr. Robin Custodio and Fr. Joseph Matitu;
- the Silver Jubilee of the Priesthood of Fr. Wilfredo “Willy” Vallar and Fr. Apolinario “Poli” Ty;
- the 40th Presbyteral Ordination Anniversary of Most Rev. Sofronio “Ronnie” Bancud;
- and the Perpetual Profession and Diaconal Ordination of Rev. Marco Divine and Rev. Alde.
Isn’t it great and noteworthy that our kick-off for the 60-year foundation anniversary began with perpetual profession and diaconal ordination and culminated with another perpetual profession/diaconal ordination? Indeed, God is never outdone in generosity in terms of vocation. We are truly blessed to have these young men— talented and generous in serving God’s people. May God grant them strength and steadfast commitment in their respective assignments.
After the Mass, the lunch reception was held at the Manila Grand Opera Hotel. Guests included bishops, priests, religious, associates, parishioners, benefactors, friends and family members. Also present were Fr. Anthony Schueller, Provincial Superior of the Province of St. Ann, and Fr. Norman Pelletier, the previous Provincial Superior of the Province and the Congregation’s 13th General Superior under whose term we became the Province of Our Lady of the Assumption on May 27, 1993.
Fr. Provincial Joseph Matitu welcomed the guests and concluded his speech with a toast. The video prepared by Fr. Allen Peña was shown. Then some novices sang the anniversary theme song composed by Fr. Marc Bryan Adona. The duo of Fr. Junvic Diolata and Dante Chua served as emcees and kept a lively banter throughout the affair. Overall, from the looks on their faces, everyone had a grand time on this grand day. Laudetur Iesus Christus!