Filipino Capuchins celebrate roots

Posted By: Chris On:

MANILA, May 8, 2011—The Kapatirang Capuchino ng Pilipinas will culminate the year-long observance of its 25th anniversary of foundation in the country in solemn festivities on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

Centered on the theme “Nag-aalad na Capuchino Sama-samang humayo sa Beinte-singko”, the half-day celebration will begin with a solemn procession from the Sta. Teresita del Nino Jesus Parish at Kanlaon St., Sta. Mesa Heights to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes.

A video presentation of the Capuchin history in the Philippines will be shown at 10:00 a.m. followed by a Solemn Eucharistic Celebration at 11:00 a.m. with His Eminence Gaudencio B. Cardinal Rosales as main presider and Diocesan of Ilagan (Isabela) Bishop Joseph A. Nacua as homilist.

Brief History

The Capuchin Franciscans, a religious order that has produced an army of saints including the famous Padre Pio, is celebrating 25 years in the Philippines as a Province. But their roots in the country stretch much farther into the past, with color and drama that kept in step with the history of the people it faithfully and bravely ministered.

The first Capuchins arrived in the archipelago in 1886 amid the intensity of the Philippine Revolution. Actually, they were missionaries to the Caroline Islands who intended to make the country simply as a supply base. But because they came when other missionaries were already leaving because of the socio-political unrest, these hooded and bearded Capuchins, carrying only the Cross of Christ and by their attitudes, works, and charity, answered the needs of the Church and became instruments in preserving the faith that was being threatened by anti-clericalism and insurgent nationalist fervor. True to their charism to serve where others refuse to serve, the Capuchin Franciscans eventually took up some abandoned parishes in Bicol, Batangas, Pangasinan and Quezon and helped nurture the one, true faith back to life.

By 1957, the Philippines became a “Custody” or community under the Navarra Province of Spain and embarked on a new mission: to open their doors to get home-grown vocations. It was at this time that a seminary was built to cater to Filipino Capuchin aspirants. From humble beginnings at the ground floor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Tagaytay City, the Our Lady of Lourdes Seminary was erected in Lipa City in 1969 to welcome and form the increasing number of young men from all over the Philippines who wished to follow St. Francis along the Capuchin way. And by June 17, 1970, the Philippines had become a Vice-Province.

Like the Proverbial Mustard Seed

The Order continued to grow roots and bear fruit in the Philippines, establishing more friaries in Manila, Baguio, Cavite, Laguna, and Batangas. Finally, on April 23, 1985, the “Kapatirang Capuchino ng Pilipinas” or the Philippine Province of the Order of Capuchin Friars Minor was established in the presence of then-Minister General Fr. Flavio Carraro, OFMCap and the Provincial Minister of Navarra, Fr. Eleuterio Ruiz, OFMCap. Fr. Troadio delos Santos, OFMCap became the first Filipino Capuchin Provincial Minister. And until today, two Spanish Capuchin missionaries continue to faithfully serve the Philippines which they come to consider home: Fr. Manuel Remirez, OFMCap. and Fr. Mateo Goldaraz, OFMCap.

In the words of Fr. Ruiz, the establishment of the Philippine Province is without a doubt a historical date: a dream target for those who, assigned there by obedience, have dedicated an important part of their lives to serve and cooperate in the evangelization of the young Filipino Church then. In a prodigious coincidence, 1986 not only marked the EDSA Revolt but the Centenary of Capuchin Presence in the Philippines.

Twenty-five years later, the Philippine Capuchin Province has further spread into Mindanao with five friaries, two of which are mission posts among B’laan and Manobo communities. It also holds under its maternal wings the Custody of Malaysia, as well as consistently sending out missionaries to the Middle East, New Zealand, Spain, and the United States.

Indeed, this Silver Jubilee Year of the Kapatirang Capuchino ng Pilipinas is a celebration of thanksgiving and praise to the Lord who continuously guides the Province in its commitment to evangelize the country and the rest of the world. Their growth in apostolate and mission areas and in number is a sign of God’s love and protection.

In his message during the opening of the year-long Silver Anniversary Celebration of the Philippine Capuchin Province last April 23, 2010, the current Provincial Minister, Fr. Cesar Acuin, OFMCap reiterated that the twenty-five year journey of the Province is a realization of their being evangelizers and agents of renewal, of their being missionaries, and of their Gospel brotherhood molded into the matrix of the Filipino culture. The Philippine Capuchin Province has indeed inculturated the Gospel and the Capuchin charism within the Filipino soul.

As it culminates the Jubilee year this May 21, 2011, the Philippine Province eagerly looks forward to the next twenty-five years as they continue their commitment to the works of evangelization, in a humble service to the people especially to the underprivileged members of the society. (Fr. Rolly O. Briones, OFMCap/
Melo M. Acuna)

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