The first group of Augustinians, originating from Spain and Mexico under the leadership of the Venerable Andres Urdaneta, arrived in the Philippines in 1565 as pioneers in the Church’s task of evangelization in this part of the globe. Originally establishing themselves in Cebu, the “City of Sto. Nino” which is located in the heart of the country, these missionaries soon expanded their apostolic activities to the neighboring towns and islands and, a little later, to almost all the other principal regions of the archipelago.
To further nourish and kindle their missionary zeal and fervor, the Prior General then of the Order, Tadeo da Perusa, decreed on March 7, 1575, the creation of a new Augustinian Province in the Philippines under the title: Most Holy Name of Jesus of the Philippines (Santisimo Nombre de Jesus de Filipinas).
Words will never suffice to describe the missionary endeavors undertaken, trials and difficulties encountered, joys and glory experienced by those great apostles of the gospel and our revered predecessors. To all these, no better testimony could be found than the almost three hundred towns and churches they founded, the conversions of many, the publications and other cultural enrichments they made from 1565 to 1898.
At the turn of the 20th century, however, for several reasons the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus of the Philippines decided to shift its missionary activities to newer territories, like China and South America. As a logical consequence of this move the seat of the Province was transferred from Manila to Madrid. The Augustinian presence then in the country was reduced to the minimum.
To fill this “Augustinian vacuum”, the remaining Augustinians intensified the recruitment and formation of Filipino candidates. And as the number of the latter increased and their preparedness adequately established, the idea of creating a new Province came to be seriously considered.