On April 9-11, 2019, the friars of the Philippines celebrated the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Provincial Custody of the Immaculate Conception and Bl. Bonaventure of Potenza in the Philippines. During the three-day celebration, they gratefully recalled the efforts made by the Mother Province and the entire Order to strengthen our missions in the country.
It was forty years ago, August 24, 1979, when the first missionaries came from the Province of the Seraphic Father St. Francis in Italy (Naples) to establish a missionary presence of the Order in the country. Ten years later, on April 10, 1989, the Minister General, Friar Lanfranco SERRINI, decreed the erection of the Custody of the Philippines. Friar Albert SAMMUT (of happy memory) was the first Provincial Custos, assisted at that time by missionaries from various Jurisdictions in the Order.
On April 09, 2019, the first day of the anniversary celebrations was hosted by the St. Maximilian friary in Parañaque City. The highlight of the occasion was the Mass presided over by the Provincial Custos, Friar Francis MATEO. Friar Thomas CALLEJA from Malta gave a homily on the workings of grace during his four and a half years as a missionary in the Custody. After the Mass, there was a presentation on the brief history of the friary. In addition, a display of the memorabilia of the deceased friars was opened to the public. In the afternoon, Friar Antonio MAGHIRANG, the National Vice-Minister of the Secular Franciscan Order (OFS) gave a conference on the collegial collaboration of the Conference of the National Spiritual Assistants to the Third Order. More than two hundred visitors attended the event.
On April 10, 2019, the second day’s celebrations took place at the Immaculata friary in Novaliches. The festivities started with Mass presided over by Friar Angelo PALUMBO, the Guardian of San Lorenzo Maggiore in Naples. A member of the Province of Naples, he has been an important collaborator with the Custody for the last ten years. In his homily, he emphasized the role of the Filipinos as bearers of the light of Christ in Asia. He too remembered with gratitude the stirrings of the Holy Spirit in his life as a friar and as a missionary in Africa. Then, before the final blessing of the Mass, some friars celebrating their 25th anniversary of religious profession were recognized and congratulated. That same afternoon, the Minister Provincial of Naples, Friar Cosimo ANTONINO, gave some important updates on the Filipino friars currently ministering in his Province. An open forum followed, allowing the friars to ask the Minister Provincial questions and get clarifications. In addition, a lay collaborator was invited to present some activities taking place in Novaliches and its plans for the future.
On April 11, 2019, the third day’s celebrations were held at the St. Joseph Friary in Tagaytay City. Friar Andrew DATOY presided over the Mass. The Minister Provincial, Friar Cosimo ANTONINO, gave a homily on the importance of knowing and observing the Word who sets man free and gives his life its ultimate meaning. He encouraged the friars of the Custody to be genuine witnesses of Franciscan life to the world. After the Mass, everyone gathered for a commemorative blessing of the tomb of Friar Pietro D’ANDRIA. He was a religious brother and one of the early missionaries in the Philippines. He chose to remain in the Order, despite the division caused by the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. Next came the blessing of the newly renovated St. Joseph Spirituality Center and the annex building which houses the common novitiate of the Federation of Asian Minors Conventual (FAMC). The renovation was made possible by the generous support of the Province of Korea and the friars of the Philippines.
This three-day gathering was an opportune time for the Custody to once again renew its commitment to the Lord through a simple yet grace-filled remembrance of the past. The Custody expressed its gratitude for that past and at the same time, looks forward to its future as a Province, a Province that is open the leadership and blessed providence of our merciful Father.
Custodial Communications Office
Photos: Alexander Amora JUNI and Friar Lucas ANTAZO