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SANTA ROSA DE LIMA PARISH

A Brief History

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The Santa Rosa de Lima Catholic Church

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The parish  of Sta. Rosa de Lima originated in 1792 with the arrival of Fray Francisco Favie of the Dominican Order. Prior to this fooundation, our town was only a barrio of Binan, and was named "Bucol" because some of the southern parts were hilly. The first house of worship was a "Bisita" constructed on the lot beside the Municipal Hall, then known as the "Presidencia". The structure still stands and serves today as the Police Headquarters and Municipal Jail.
 

In 1970, the Spanish friars built the present Catholic Church with recruited labor from China who later became descendants of the old Chinese families in Santa Rosa like the Lijauco’s and the Tiongco’s. The old convent is now the main building of the Canossa School. Both the church and the convent were completed within 12 years, and the church was inaugurated on August 30, 1792 with SANTA ROSA DE LIMA as its patron saint. And instead of “Bucol”, the residents chose to name the town Santa Rosa.”

 

The present convent was constructed in 1954 when he arriving Sisters of the Canossian Congregation utilized and subsequently renovated the old building and it became the center of the Canossian Mission in the Philippines. Behind the old building (when it was still a convent), was an open field which was the site of the old Santa Rosa Cemetery. This was later transferred to its present site during the last years of the Spanish rule.

 

            Throughout the Spanish regime, the town of Santa Rosa was under the administration of the Spanish friars, hence it was called the friar lands. In 1850, the Casa-Hacienda (the site of the present public elementary school) was built as the friar’s Administration Building and also served as residence most favored by visiting dignitaries. There was an underground passage from the foot of the stairs of the convent crossing though the town plaza to the stairs of the Casa-Hacienda.

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            The execution of Dr. Jose Rizal and the abuses and injustice of the Spanish authorities led to the hostilities among the inhabitants. In 1907, many disgruntled citizens embraced the Aglipayan religion. The parishioners suddenly diminished in number, and the priest held masses even if there were only seven persons attending.

 

            Santa Rosa de Lima, our patron saint, is believed to be miraculous. During the Japanese occupation, several evacuees from neighboring towns attested that a beautiful lady in black and white urged them to come to Santa Rosa where rice and fish were abundant and they will not go hungry. Upon visiting our church, they said the Lady who invited them was none other than our patron saint. The Japanese cavaliers attempted to shelter their horses inside our church, but the animals galloped wildly and could not get inside. Many more stories are related by our citizens about the miracles of Santa Rosa de Lima.

 

            Our church has eight (8) big bells that toll and ring majestically with sounds heard as far as distant barrios. Each bell is identified with names of saints – Santa Rosa de Lima (the biggest bell), Santa Barbara, Santissimo Sacramento, San Juan Bautista, San Jose, Santa Cecilia, Santo Domingo de Guzman, and Ni˝o Jesus. The patron’s name, the name of the manufacturer and his address, the priest hen serving as curate, the year of casting, and the name of the donor (if any) are all engraved on the bell’s surface.

 

            We also has the biggest clock measuring one and one-half meters in diameter, whose sound announces every quarter of the hour. It was destroyed during a dogfight between the USAFE and the Japanese air forces, dismantling it of its statues of saints most specially those we use in processions during the Holy Week.

 

            The various developments and improvements of our church were influenced and carried out by some of the good priests which we had in our Parish. Fray Andres Tejedor (Oct. 1916 - Feb. 1926), a Spanish priest of the Dominican Order, inspired Mariano Perlas, Sr., an indigenous Santa Rosa painter during the early 20th century, to paint the ceiling of our church. It was a great attraction from 1923 to 1960 and was as beautiful as the ceiling of the Quiapo Church. Among the paintings were the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, the Coronation, the four Evangelists, Saint Roche, and others.

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            During the time of Father Agustin Reyes (1957-1966) the paintings were removed when the ceiling was repainted during the renovation of 1960 because some pictures have been effaced by bats and of age. The two paintings on the ceiling of the choir loft or “Koro”, the image of the patron saints of Christian music – Holy King David with the harp and Santa Cecilia at the piano, are the only remains of these more than a dozen paintings on the church ceiling.

 

            When Father Benito Pagsuyuin (1917-1981) was the Parish Priest, some paintings that were rotting in the sacristy were assembled, and the late Dr. Pedro Rivera has them repainted. They were framed and displayed at the back part of the church.

 

            The short stay of Father Buenaventura Ubarco (July 1987 – Nov. 1988) as Parish Administrator marked the birth of the Parish Youth Council of the Laity (PYCL) organized with the help of Sister Carmelita C. Decasa, fdcc then Pastoral Sister of the Canossian Congregation. It was also during this time when the Parish Lectors/Commentators Guild (LCG) was formed. He also restored the church sacristy.

 

            Father John Paul Villanueva installed the Adoration Chapel using the Baptistry. He also activated the different church organizations. Father Antonio Atienza, who died in office after serving the Parish for only one year, was responsible for the repainting and repair of the whole church roofing. He also initiated the renovation of the church fašade. The exterior niches which for so long stood empty, were finally filled up with statues of Santa Rosa de Lima, Saint Joseph, the Virgin Mary, and the four Evangelists.

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            Under the auspices of Father Mar R.M. Castillo, and with the support of the parishioners at large, the beautification of our church patio was completed in barely one year of his stay at the Parish. It gave the church a beautiful setting with a fountain installed at the center of the patio, and on one side, the Fourteen Stations of the Cross are depicted on the stone wall. Father Mar also made possible some renovations like the widening of the Altar and the repair of the side entrance of the church.

 

            Spiritually, our church has made rapid progress. Many renegade Catholics have returned to the flock. Several religious organizations, as well as social and civic groups, are participating wonderfully in the projects and activities in the church. The number of church goers and communicants has increased significantly. We have now four (4) Barangay Mini-Parishes – Tagapo, Sinalhan, Aplaya and Caingin. Their organizations served as a connecting link to the Mother Parish Council of the laity, thus the carrying out of activities became faster and even smoother. Because of the various improvements being seen by the parishioners, they have become more generous in giving and more conscious of their duties and obligations to the church. Inspired by this response from the people, the Pastors, together with the Parish Council of the Laity and its member organizations, improvements and renovations of the church were completed. The Adoration Chapel was renovated under the supervision of  Father Mar  Castillo while the new convent was constructed under the tutelage of Father Melchor Barcenas. The building of the Mortuary has been accomplished under the auspices of Father Anthony Ricafort. The newly constructed belfry of the church with the support of Father Larry Abayon. The lighting of the church and patio and the new suelo of the church  has been carried out by the present parish priest Rev. Father Ricky Yapana and more new feasible projects are being lined up.

 

            As the town of Santa Rosa propel to greater heights owing to the tremendous developments as an industrial community, our church will not be left out in this progress. This is as long as we are one people of God – working harmoniously, sharing thoughts and ideas, and joining hands together for the good of our church and that of its entire people.

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Santa. Rosa de Lima Parish * F. Gomez St., Brgy. Kanluran, City of Santa. Rosa, Laguna 4026 *