FILIPINO AUGUSTINIANS

Towards the Creation of a New Province

The coming into existence of such a new Province dawned in 1974 when the Regional Assembly of the Philippine Augustinian Vicariate asked for the creation of a Vice-Province in the country. Though the plan fizzled out, it was again revived by a group of Filipino Augustinians at a meeting in the Basilica of Sto Niño on April 29, 1981. The plan this time was for the creation of the new Province. It was then believed that a new Province would not only inject additional life to the spirit of Filipino Augustinians because of the challenge and the great responsibility which such a move offers, but also a new Province would become a sign of the solid growth of the Augustinian spirit and ideals in the Philippine native soil and in the Filipino heart.

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.

On January 15, 1984, the Feast of Sto. Niño de Cebu, the new Province was solemnly inaugurated with a solemn high mass presided by the Very Rev. Fr. Martin Nolan, OSA, Prior General of the Order, in the Basilica del Sto. Niño de Cebu. Others present were: Fr. Julian Centeno, OSA, Asst. General; Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, D.D., Archbishop of Cebu; friars of the old and new Provinces headed by their Prior Provincials, Fr. Pedro Rubio, OSA and Fr. Eusebio Berdon, OSA, respectively; the Asia Pacific Augustinian Conference (APAC) representatives; some Augustinian Sisters of Our Lady of Consolation, headed by their Superior General, Mo. Leontina Castillo, OSA; other religious from different Religious institutes; civil authorities; and members of different Augustinian organizations.

Presence and Pastoral Involvement of Cebu Province

As agreed upon in a Memorandum of Agreement, the new Province took possession of the following houses: Basilica del Sto. Niño (Cebu), University of San Agustin (lloilo), Colegio San Agustin-Bacolod (Negros Occidental), San Jose Parish (lloilo), Guadalupe Monastery (Makati) and San Agustin Center of Studies (Quezon City, established in 1984); while Convento de San Agustin (Manila) and Colegio San Agustin (Makati) remained with the Mother Province.

The upsurge of enthusiasm among the members of the new Province very soon led to the establishing in 1985 of additional communities: the Sto. Niño Parish in Mohon, Talisay, Cebu and the Colegio San Agustin and Sto. Niño Parish in Biñan, Laguna. In 1987, the Province accepted the offer of the Bishop of San Pablo diocese to administer the Mother of Good Counsel (formerly St. Jerome Emiliani) Parish in Chrysanthemum Village, San Pedro, Laguna.

The new Province kept on growing. The Augustinian Novitiate and Prayer House Community was established in 1989 in Mohon, Talisay City, Cebu and the Pilgrim Center in 1992 in Cebu City, which houses the Provincialate Community.

Meanwhile, the Province accepted the joint mission which later became a collaboration with the Australian Province in South Korea (1993), a collaboration with the Dutch Province in Indonesia (1998) with the Villanova Province in South Africa (2002) and with the Vicariate of Japan (2003), and extended assistance in terms of personnel to the General Curia. A local mission was also accepted (ad experimentum in 2001 and definitively in 2004) in the island of Socorro, Surigao del Norte. A new quasi-parish of St. Lawrence the Deacon has been entrusted to the care of the Province in 2005 in Gubat, Sorsogon. And to further expand the Province’s presence in Mindanao, the University of San Agustin initiated its extension campus in Mati, Davao Oriental (2007).

Other events worthy to be noted are: the transfer of the seat of the Province from San Agustin Center of Studies (SACS) in Quezon City to Basilica del Sto. Niño ln Cebu City in 1990; the construction in 1990 of the Sto. Niño Pilgrim Center in Cebu City, and its approval by the General Curia in February 1992 as a religious residence for the Provincialate Community; the eventual transfer of the seat of the Province from the Basilica del Sto. Niño to the Pilgrim Center in August 1993; and the construction in 1995 of the College Seminary in the SACS compound in Quezon City.

The latter, aside from being a residence of our college philosophy students, also houses the St. Thomas Villanova Institute (affiliated to the University of San Agustin), which offers a government-recognized philosophy course.