Recoletos de Bacolod celebrates yearlong P. Ferrero centennial

         After months of meetings, preparation and a press conference, the Padre Mauricio Ferrero Centennial was launched on June 20, 2016. The San Sebastian Cathedral of Bacolod City was the venue of the event. The date recalled the handing over of the spiritual jurisdiction of Negros Island to the Augustinian Recollects by the Spanish colonial government exactly 168 years ago.

          Padre Mauricio Ferrero (1844-1915), the Recollect parish priest of Bacolod in intermittent periods from the Spanish colonial era up the American Regime, had constructed that very church in 1876-1882. Various activities of the opening of the celebration were observed in that divine temple. The close of the centenary was scheduled in December 2016 with more events, such as the transfer of the statues of Padre Mauricio and Padre Fernando Cuenca from their present site near the cathedral entrance to the adjoining patio out in the open.

           The Recoletos de Bacolod community through their educational apostolate –University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos–is spearheading the ongoing centennial. They count on the support of the Parish and Diocese of Bacolod as well as Radio Veritas-Bacolod. The Provincial Tourism Office and the Philippine Association of Catholic Religious Educators (PACRE) are likewise partners in their cultural-academic activities. Centennial Committee chair and UNO-R Vice President for Religious Affairs Father Abraham Latoza OAR is assisted by Dr. Carlos Legaspi and Dr. Dennis Madrigal. On the part of the Diocese of Bacolod, Bishop Emeritus Vicente Navarra attended several meetings together with Cathedral Rector Msgr. Felix Pasquin, Fr. Irineo Gordoncillo, Fr. Segundo Chua and local historian Modesto Sa-onoy.   

          On that same day, the new book Events in Bacolod, Negros Occidental, in the Parish Chronicle (1871-1909) of Fr. Mauricio Ferrero OAR and Other Essays by Emmanuel Luis Romanillos was presented. The author highlighted the most salient points of the Ferrrero book from the pulpit of the cathedral. The book launch preceded the concelebrated Mass presided by Bishop Navarra. He was joined by diocesan clergymen and Recollect priests from the community of University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos, headed by Fr. Prior William Villaflor. Fr. Jose Ernil Almayo represented the Prior Provincial Fr. Dionisio Selma. Fr. Antonio Limchaypo  was the lone representative of the Recollect community of Saint Nicholas Parish of Talisay City. Fr. Gordoncillo, of the Diocesan Communications Commission gave the sermon on the beginnings of the parish and the evangelization efforts of the Augustinian Recollects in Bacolod.

            A large tarpaulin of the official Padre Ferrero Centennial poster was unveiled right after the Mass. Two gigantic posters were earlier hung at the right belfry of the cathedral and at the UNO-R building which houses the Religious Education Department and other offices. At once followed the Ferrero book sale and signing at the lateral atrium beside the age-old temple of God. The ribbon-cutting of the Padre Mauricio Ferrero exhibits showcasing his life and works at the Diocesan Museo de Bacolod was officiated by Bishop Navarra and Prof. Sa-onoy. 

         The Conference on Padre Mauricio Ferrero, Recollect Builder of Bacolod was organized by the Centennial Committee.  Dr. Madrigal, conference coordinator, invited two guest speakers Fr. Emilio Edgardo Quilatan and Prof. Romanillos for the August 25, 2016. UNO-R staff, faculty members, employees, Secular Augustinian Recollects and graduate students from various Catholic colleges in Negros Occidental were welcomed by Dr. Legaspi. Prof. Sao-noy then expounded on the rationale of the conference. He further highlighted the great legacies of the Recollect Order in Negros. 

           Fr. Emilio Edgardo Quilatan spoke on the “Augustinian Recollects in Bacolod since 1871.” Through his powerpoint presentation, based upon manuscripts and photos from the Archivo Recoleto under his administration, he stressed the Recollects’ achievements at San Sebastian Parish until its turn-over to the new Bacolod Diocese in 1933. 

           Prof. Romanillos lectured on the “Life, Ministry and Works of Padre Mauricio Ferrero, OAR.” He focused on histories not found in his Ferrero book such as his various suggestions to improve the conventual church of Marcilla, Navarra, when he was prior. 

Romanillos revealed the correct date of Padre Mauricio’s death: December 8, 1918. This information was culled from Padre Francisco Vega’s entry in the Libro de Cosas notables de Bacolod. Miguel Avellaneda’s Catalogue (1906-1936) had put it as January 29, 1919. 

         Clarificatory questions were asked after the lectures by the audience. One asked about the original name of Bacolod. Reply: San Sebastian de Magsungay which is an existent river that somewhere forms a fork. Those interested in further research at the Archivo Recoleto in Quezon City were requested by Fr. Quilatan to get a prior appointment. To cap the event, in the name of Fr. Prior Wiliam Villaflor  and the Recoletos de Bacolod community Fr. Pedro Escanillas, Director of Scholarships, handed over to the guest lecturers the plaques of appreciation.  

UNO-R President Fr. Edcel Celiz in an interview at the convent after the conference thanked the Centennial Committee, university staff, faculty and the Diocese of Bacolod for their support. He believed that great effort should be exerted to intensify the drive to bring the cultural heritage of Bacolod and the Recollects far and wide beyond the confines of the Diocese. “There should be a continuous effort,” he added, “to disseminate more information on the culture and legacy to every sector of society not only in the City but in the whole island of Negros.” 

         The primordial academic task of the Recollect university, Fr. Celiz stressed, is to fully integrate the legacies of Padre Mauricio and the Recollects in Religious Education or Theology curricula imparted eventually–through the PACRE teachers and catechists– to thousands of students in Catholic learning institutions in Negros Island.  

         Bishop Navarra had hoped that through similar academic activities and especially the Ferrero commemorative book which can serve as useful reference manual “in teaching catechism and Church history classes in our parochial schools and Catholic private schools in the Diocese of Bacolod.”  They can all know, Bishop Navarra concluded, “how the Catholic Faith spread and became embedded in the life and culture of the Negrense people through the intrepid missionary spirit of the Augustinian Recollect priests with the collaboration of the diocesan clergy and the deep popular religiosity of the laity in the then Diocese of Bacolod which covered the whole island of Negros.”

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