Fifty years ago in June of 1972, the Our Mother of Perpetual Help parish under the administration of the Redemptorist Missionaries was founded. These were the circumstances leading to this historic event (as quoted in the 50th anniversary commemorative publication).
It was not until the early 1970s that the idea of a Redemptorist parish in Davao again surfaced. In May 1971 this offer was made formally by the Archdiocese in writing. On September 2, 1971, during the visit of the Vice-Provincial, Fr. Mahoney, the community (composed of Fr. Sean. Magnier as Superior met to discuss whether a parish should be established. Some questions that arose included: Would accepting a parish be for the good of the Local Church? Would it so reduce their missionary effort as to render it ineffective? Furthermore, it was to be considered that conducting missions was the priority apostolate. At that time, the parish of about 25,000 was being cared for by one priest.
The community members were in a deadlock and could not reach a consensus. It was then left to the Vice-Provincial and the members of his Council to make the decision and they approved the establishment of a parish. A meeting was then held at the Archbishop’s residence and among those who attended were Archbishop Antonio Mabutas, Fr. Maurice Leveille PM, other PMEs and Blessed Sacrament Fathers and Fr. Magnier and Fr. Pierse. One task at hand was to set the boundaries between the areas left with the Assumption Parish under the Blessed Sacrament Fathers and the new parish under the Redemptorists. A date was then scheduled for the date of the parish foundation which was to be a week after Easter of 1972. Officially, however, the foundation of the OMPH parish in Davao was inaugurated on July 27, 1972, with Fr. Dominic McKenna CSsR as parish priest. When it was first established, the parish covered the areas of Callawa, Mandug, Tigatto and Buhangin.”
Bulawanong Gasa (A Golden Gift) was decided by the Davao Redemptorist Mission Community (DRMC) as the theme for the 50th-anniversary celebrations when the members met a year ago to prepare for this event. This theme became the title of the commemorative publication which recently got published and distributed to the different CSsR units and foundations.
Various activities were planned and some of them have already been accomplished over the past few months. There were mass confirmations, baptisms and the first Holy Communion rituals involving all of the 35 GKKs across the parish. Just these past weekends, more than a hundred volunteers (from the DRMC members to parish staff to GKK leaders and youth) volunteered to be facilitators and resource persons for the 50th year parish missions held in the different seven zones. These missions were mainly skills training for the spotted new leaders as well as existing alagads of the GKKs.
On Pentecost Sunday, the Care for the Earth parish ministry conducted an Organic Market in the church grounds, in collaboration with the Paglaum Ecological Network which is affiliated with Sustainable Davao Movement. Through this network, the parish ministry is linked to other parishes, Catholic schools, NGOs and other ecological groups based in Davao City. They will be hosting the novena Mass on Sunday, June 12 where hundreds of trees would be distributed so parishioners and churchgoers can be actively involved in making sure the city have more trees. On the same day, a group of volunteer ophthalmologists and optometrists will provide free eye consultation to poor households of the parish.
The nine-day novena from June 10 to June 18 will be live-streamed for both the 6 AM and 5:30 PM Masses (although on Sunday it will be at 6 PM). Each Novena Mass has its theme which relates to the Province’s missiological priorities. From June 13 to 17, the St. Alphonsus Theological and Mission Institute (SATMI) in collaboration with the parish and the MindaNews Media Cooperative Center/Institute of Journalism are co-sponsoring the Second Mindanao Book Festival, a Book Fair/Exhibit that will have a launching of all Mindanao books published during the time of the pandemic on June 13 at 3 PM. All Mindanao books published through the years are then exhibited in Rooms 5-6 at SATMI.
A concert – Halad ni Maria, featuring Fr. Bonn Barretto CSsR and the different church choirs (Sts. Catherine, St. Blaise and St. Hildegaard Choirs) along with the Kaliwat Theatre Collective backed up by a quartet under the baton of Kruz – will take place inside the church on Friday, June 17 at 8 to 9:30 P.M. Songs to be interpreted are all in Cebuano-Bisaya used popularly in most of our missions, especially with the Redemptorist Itinerant Mission Team. The finale are songs dedicated to the Blessed Mother.
A dawn procession will begin the fiesta day on Sunday, June 19. The Pontifical Mass will be at 10 A.M. with the Archbishop, Msgr. Romulo Valles officiating and Bishop Emmanuel Cabajar CSsR as homilist. Lunch will be served by the DRMC to invited guests. From 4 PM to the evening, members of the GKK will gather inside the gym for the final activity – a grand fiesta celebration!
All Redemptorists are naturally invited to join their confreres at this 50th anniversary of the OMPH parish, especially all those who have served the parish through the years!
Bro. Karl Gaspar, CSsR