Augustinian Recollects celebrate 400 years of missionary presence in Cebu
The Order of Augustinian Recollects (OAR) launched a year-long celebration yesterday to mark their 400 years of continuing missionary presence in Cebu.
It was kicked off with the unveiling of their 400-year commemorative marker at the lobby of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish – Recoletos.
“This Marker symbolizes the expression of profound gratitude and joy of the Augustinian Recollects for the 400 years of grace and blessings from the Heavenly Father,” the inscription stated.
Rev. Fr. Christopher Maspara, OAR , the overall chair of the Recoletos de Cebu at 400, shared that the OAR is also processing an application to have a historical marker to be mounted in this historical site.
A commemorative marker is made by the organizers of an event while a historical marker can only be issued by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.
After the unveiling, a Eucharistic Celebration took place which was presided by the Archbishop of Cebu together with two other guest bishops and 28 con-celebrating priests.
Archbishop Jose Palma highlighted in his homily that the OAR need not to look far to see the impact that it has made in its 400 years of continuing presence in Cebu.
“You might not have been able to build certain structures or buildings that may crumble with the passing of time. But to me, the thousands of students that have passed the portals of your University, the thousands of students who are grateful because they received quality academic formation and religious formation. These are the students who became professionals and are in other parts of the world. These are the students who improved the quality of life of their families because they have studied at USJ-R,” he expressed.
The Archbishop also declared April 29, 2021 to April 29, 2022 a “Special Year of Grace” for parishes and school campus’ chapels under the pastoral care of the Augustinian Recollects in the Archdiocese of Cebu.
These “places of pilgrimage” are (1) Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish-Recoletos, (2) Our Lady of Consolation Parish-Recoletos, (3) St. Augustine of Hippo Quasi-Parish -Recoletos, (4) USJ-R Main Campus Chapel, (5) St. Ezekiel Moreno Chapel in USJ-R Basak, and (6) La Consolacion Chapel in USJ-R Balamban.
A quadricentennial prayer and a theme song entitled “Proclaim His Love” were also launched on April 29. The song was composed by one of the OAR friars and is performed by selected Josenians.
With the pandemic in mind, the guests during the celebration were limited. Hence, the event was streamed live on at least 17 online platforms including news agencies and Recollect-affiliated institutions. This is the biggest digital coverage that the OAR in Cebu has done to date.
To recall, the Governor-General of the Philippines granted the official permit and license to the Augustinian Recollect missionaries on April 29, 1621 to put up a convent in Cebu. This after the Augustinian Bishop of Cebu issued the necessary episcopal license and official credentials to the Vicar Provincial of the Recollects of St. Augustine in the same year.
This event paved the way for the Augustinian Recollects to establish a church and a convent which was dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of Mary in 1621. It also served as a base for the OAR missions in Visayas and Mindanao.
Moreover, the Augustinian Recollects also founded and administered churches in the northeastern parts of Cebu including the towns in Camotes islands.
In 1947, the OAR expanded their educational apostolate by founding Colegio de San Jose-Recoletos (present-day University of San Jose-Recoletos). In 1971, the parish of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel was erected on the site where the old church of the Immaculate Conception used to stand.
In 2006, the OAR communities celebrated the 400th anniversary of their arrival and continuing presence in the Philippines and Asia. In contrast, the celebration this 2021 marks the 400th year since the establishment of the first OAR community in Cebu and the beginning of their missionary presence.