The year of our Lord 2011 is a milestone in the history of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish because it is the 50th anniversary of the Canonical Establishment of our beloved parish. Having come this far in our journey as a parish community is an awesome grace in itself, yet the Lord is indeed so generous that He provided a deeper meaning to our Golden Jubilee celebration -– on August 14, 2010, our parish was declared by Pope Benedict XVI as a Pilgrim Jubilee Church, granting partial and plenary indulgence to all parishioners and pilgrims from August 15, 2010 to August 15, 2011.
With joyful thanksgiving for this wonderful grace from God as backdrop, let us walk down memory lane and trace the humble beginnings and development of the parish we have come to love and serve.
It all began in 1955, when Project 6 was developed by the People’s Homesite and Housing Corporation or PHHC. Pioneering community membersrecall that the first masses were celebrated by priests from Sta. Rita Parish under the shade of a Sampaloc tree, which today still stands on what is now the ground of the Project 6 Elementary School.
In 1957, Rev. Fr. Pedro Bantigue was appointed as interim parish priest. The first organization formed in the parish was the Catholic Women’s League; then later, the Mother Butler Guild and Apostleship of Prayer. Responding to the eagerness of the community to have their own church, Fr. Bantigue organized a construction committee headed by Juan Ayalde. Negotiations with the PHHC for the purchase of a site began while Jose Zaragosa, the official Diocesan architect and designer of the Sto. Domingo Church was asked to draw up the plan for the proposed church.
On June 28, 1958, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila Rufino Cardinal Santos, represented by Auxiliary Bishop Hernando Antiporda, entered into a Deed of Sale with PHHC for the purchase of a 3,159 square meter lot along Road 8 in the amount of Php 40,950.00. That same year, construction of the church went full swing under the supervision of Arch. Reynaldo Mababangloob. To mark the event, a time capsule containing important documents was lowered at the site, in special rites led by Msgr. Jose Jovellanos.
Simultaneous with the building of the church, the faithful moved for the declaration of the community as a parish. They elected “Our Lady of Mount Carmel” as the Patroness of the new parish. After meeting the requirements, such as sufficient number of population, availability of a church site and readiness of the people to support the needs of the parish priest and of the church, Rufino Cardinal Santos signed a decree creating the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish on August 3, 1961.
On September 2, 1961, Rev. Fr. Julito Tungol was appointed as the first parish priest. This period marked the beginning of the awareness of parishioners on matters of spiritual growth. Different organizations were formed: Confraternity of Mt. Carmel, Adoracion Nocturna Filipina, Legion of Mary, Knights of Columbus, and the Parish Pastoral Board. Fr. Tungol’s term ended on June 18, 1969 and Rev. Fr. Eugenio Robles as the 2nd parish priest succeeded him. During his time, a new altar was built to enable the priest to say mass facing the congregation from then on.
On July 16, 1982, the church was dedicated and consecrated by His Eminence Jaime Cardinal Sin to mark the complete renovation of the church and convent. More organizations were formed, such as the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Parish Youth Council, Living Word Prayer Community, Special Ministers of Holy Communion and the Lectors and Commentators Guild.
Before Msgr. Robles’ farewell to the parish on April 4, 1989, he was appointed Pastor Emeritus. While his term was the longest, lasting 22 years, his successor, Rev. Fr. Tranquilino Cruz, had the shortest term. Nonetheless, he took very good care of the spiritual needs of his flock. He was behind the initial plans of building an Adoration Chapel.
On June 25, 1989, the parish welcomed Msgr. Ramon Arguelles as its 4th parish priest. Brief as his term was, Msgr. Arguelles initiated a number of activities and created the Parish Development Board whose first project was to raise funds for his vision of a parish multi-purpose building, which he named Bahay Karmelo. He spearheaded the construction of an adoration chapel and had plans drawn up for a mortuary.
When Msgr. Arguelles’ term ended on January 31, 1990, Rev. Fr. Eugenio Castaneda was appointed as the 5th parish priest. The construction of the Bahay Karmelo, conceptualized by Msgr. Arguelles, was executed during Fr. Gene’s term. The Repair, Renovation and Improvement Board or RRIB that supervised the further renovation of the church replaced the Parish Development Board. Fr. Gene is also well remembered for his healing ministry. He also introduced the Parish Renewal Experience or PREX and the Perpetual Dawn Rosary and revitalized the Charismatic and Cursillo movements.
On April 01, 1997, Rev. Fr. Simplicio Apalisok, Jr. became the 6th parish priest. During his term, the Ushers and Collectors Ministry and the Knights of the Altar were organized. The Parish Credit Cooperative was likewise formed to provide low-interest loans to members. He also launched an outreach program for the Christmas season dubbed “Pasko Na… Ipadama”, an annual social service event to this day.
True to his pastoral care and leadership, Fr. Jun presided over the historic Pastoral Assembly in Baguio City in June 1998 where the Mission-Vision of the Parish and 5-year Pastoral Plan of Action were drafted and approved. In the same year, he envisioned a greater physical development plan for the community, which included the building of an ossuary and a parish center. Later, the construction of the Our Lady of the Assumption Ossuary became a reality. Bishop Soc Villegas led its ceremonial blessing on August 15, 2001.
In 2003, a new and bigger crucifix was installed for the altar, designed and sculpted by National Artist Napoleon Abueva. On August 28 of the same year, the Diocese of Cubao was canonically established with its first Bishop, Most Reverend Honesto Ongtioco. With the departure of Fr. Jun in January 2006, after nine years of stewardship of the parish, he left behind a legacy of significant programs, both spiritual and structural, some of which his successor, Fr. Aloy Aliño, has continued to this day. On January 28, 2006, Rev. Fr. Enrique Aloysius Ma. S. Aliño was installed as the 7th parish priest. A zealous Marian devotee and a hands-on priest, Fr. Aloy has a penchant for order and elegance that soon reflected in his management of the Parish and its premises.
On February 02, 2006, the first program that Fr. Aloy with Br. Gerry, Sr. Celina & Sr. Maria launched was the Bukluran ng Klero, Relihiyosa at Relihiyoso, officially organizing 17 religious communities in the parish. In September of the same year, he convened a Parish Congress of 35 servant leaders in Tagaste, Tagaytay to revisit the existing Parish Vision-Mission. Consequently, a new Vision-Mission in the context of the changes and challenges of the Philippine Church was successfully formulated at the Congress, along with the creation of the Parish Pastoral Manual and the realignment of the 11 major ministries.Inspired by the warm response of the parishioners to his initial endeavors, Fr. Aloy began focusing his energies on structural development projects. Simultaneous with the physical improvements, Fr. Aloy embarked on pastoral programs.
During the 46th fiesta celebration on July 15, 2007, the Parish Manual was formally launched with Bishop Ongtioco as Guest of Honor. It was presented as a tribute to the whole parish community, a work of love.
On July 16, 2008, Fr. Aloy, Br. Gerry & the Parish Pastoral Council launched a three-year spiritual preparation for the Golden Jubilee called Ascende Ad Montem Carmeli (Ascent to Mount Carmel) and released a primer introducing the official coat of arms of the parish. 2008 – dedicated to the Year of the Father, 2009 – dedicated to the Year of the Holy Spirit and 2010 – dedicated to the Year of Jesus Christ. Also, the marker of the original site of the first masses celebrated in 1961 was unveiled on the same day. The groundbreaking ceremony of “GB @11” or Gintong Bulwagan ng Karmelo in 2009 became the highlight of the fiesta celebration. Envisioned as a multi-purpose building, GB@11 brings to completion the initiated master development plan prepared in 2001.
In 2010, further enhancements in the church interiors were done for the forthcoming Golden Jubilee, such as the elegant draping of the Main Altar, the Blessed Sacrament and the Altar of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Six grand chandeliers were installed, adding a final touch of elegance to the church.
On August 13, 2010, the Holy Father Benedict XVI through the Apostolic Penitentiary granted the request that on August 15, 2010 until August 15, 2011 a plenary & partial indulgence was decreed to the parish in celebration of the Golden Jubilee. This was prepared by Br. Gerry with the help of the Apostolic Nuncio, Most Rev. Edward Joseph Adams, DD. On September 5, 2010, the ceremonial opening of the Jubilee Door, officially proclaiming the parish as a Pilgrim Jubilee Church, was celebrated with Bishop Honesto Ongtioco, D.D. leading the special rites.
The Gintong Bulwagan ng Karmelo, initially regarded as an ambitious project in 2009, was finally completed in 2011 time to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Canonical Establishment of our parish. Indeed, our beloved parish has evolved magnificently through the years. And beyond the magnificence, it is heartwarming to realize that as our parish developed, so has the number of parishioners grown and so has their faith deepened.
Having reminisced the glorious past since that historic day in August 1961, we can’t help but bow down in worship and thanksgiving for the Lord’s faithfulness. Our parish community, in its 50 years of existence, has received countless blessings through the abiding intercession of our Patroness, the Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Like a toddler learning his first steps, our community struggled to grow in faith from its humble beginnings – with the Lord patiently guiding it, giving wisdom and inspiration to its parish priests, then and now, amid triumphs and challenges.
On March 5, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel O. Sarez was welcomed in the parish as the 8th parish priest. He was installed formally on May 17, 2012 by the Bishop of Cubao, Most Rev. Honesto F. Ongtioco, DD with the Clergy, Religious and Laity attending the celebration. He convened the Parish Pastoral Council on August and had the SWOT and Planning Workshops on September 22-23 at Bulacan for the period of 2012 – 2013. He also launched the Lakbay Simbahan Formation Program as we celebrate the Year of Faith on the occasions of the 50th anniversary of the Vatican II and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
We have come this far as a parish community also because of the diligent efforts and dedication of a lot of men, women and clergy who have toiled in service of the Lord and their fellow parishioners. Some were known and some were not. Some have fallen asleep and some are still around.
With God’s grace and the guidance of our Mother Mary, the flower of Carmel, we can journey for a hundred years more as we continue to pursue our Parish Vision and Mission, serving with humility, love and joy to become true witnesses of Christ…