EVANGELIZATION and sacramentalization are the highlights of the Santissimo Rosario Parish’s mission/vision, as formulated in 1990 by then cure Fr. Gallardo Bombase, O.P. But even before the mission/vision was immortalized in writing, the parish had gone a long way since its early days as the simple chapel for the UST community. In its 63 years of existence, the parish has been continuously preserving and developing parishioners devotion to the Catholic faith as well as bridging the gap between many a student and God.

It may be said that the Santissimo Rosario parish is a rare occurrence, if not the first, being situated inside a school. But strictly speaking, it is the seat of the parish that is on campus, and the parish itself is entirely larger than the University.

According to an unpublished historical account of its development, the parish started with the former UST chapel, whose corner stone together with the Ecclesiastical Faculties and that building the houses the community of the Dominican Fathers, was laid on Nov. 13, 1932. President Manuel L. Quezon, a UST alumnus, would donate the marble main altar.

But owing to the need for spiritual, moral, and material upliftment of people during the turbulent years of the Japanese Occupation, the chapel was made parish church of the Santissimo Rosario on March 21, 1942 by decree of then Manila Archbishop Miguel ODogherty, who recognized the Dominicans devotion to the Blessed Virgin. The Dominicans and University officials graciously acceded, and the parish was canonically inaugurated on April 26 that year.

Pastoral work through the years

Aside from taking care of about 55,000 faithful since its establishment, the Santissimo Rosario Parish had once sheltered the Nuestra Señora de La Naval after miraculously surviving the bombings of the World War II in 1942.

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“After being ruined by the WWII, the old Sto. Domingo Church in Intramuros could no longer house the shrine of La Naval,” Rev. Fr. Regino Cortes O.P., College of Fine Arts and Design regent and author of the book The Story of La Naval, told the Varsitarian. “The destruction of the shrine made the Dominicans, running the then Sto. Domingo Church, decide to transfer the image to a safer place and the Santissimo Rosario Parish was their choice.”

Despite staying for 12 years at the Parish, the 412-year-old Marian image was enthroned back to the reconstructed Sto. Domingo Church at Quezon City on Oct. 10, 1954. But its departure did not end the peoples reverence to the image as a major festivity celebrated along with the Month of the Rosary every October was held in commemoration of the La Naval.

During the 1950s, however, the enthronement of the Sacred Heart in the homes of the parishioners strengthened the friendship among families and fostered camaraderie between the parishioners. It was also during this time that the Block Rosary procession in the early morning—the Rosario de la Aurora, came to be.

The late 60s, with the appointment of Fr. Guillermo Tejon, O.P, as parish priest, saw an intensified apostolate work in the parish. The newsletter, Your Parish, was published to make sure parishioners are up to date with parish events. Tejon encouraged the growth of apostolate groups of mass commentators, lectors, choir members, and servers, and held barrio masses in the nearby R. Papa and Algeciras chapels. A Parish Council was established to assist the priest in the evangelical mission as wall as parish administration. Educational loans were given to deserving youth. The lay people were mobilized, and socio-civic actions such as medical-dental missions were pursued, funded by campaigns for donations.

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Cathechism was next strengthened in the 70s, with the cooperation of the UST Pax Romana and Institute of Cathechetics.

In the late 80s to the early 90s the parish experienced drastic changes under the leadership of Fr. Gallardo Bombase Jr., O.P. Traditions and activities of the past like the dawn procession were revived while new ones like the Kantahan sa Parokya and Via Crucis Kalsada were created. The newsletter, resurrected in 1986 after a year-long hiatus became the Simbayanihan from the words “simbahan” (church) “bayan” (community), and “bayanihan” cooperation. The Parish Constitution and by-laws were also amended in accordance to the directives and policies of the Archdiocese of Manila and the Code of Canon Law. The parish educational apostolate was made stronger with the formalization of the existing scholarship program.

Hand in hand with the University

In 1992, despite the obvious cooperation between the UST community and the parish throughout the years, the parish, through Fr. Bombase, formally extended the invitation to the then UST Office of Student Affairs and Community Service to work hand in hand.

But the service had gone a long way. In cooperation with the Office of Community Development, Institute of Religion, Center for Campus Ministry and Office of the Vice Rector for Religious Affairs, the Santissimo Rosario Parish had succeeded in encouraging donations from the Academe for the Pondo ng Pinoy Foundation, a community development fund initiated by Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales.

Aside from being the top-ranking donators for the foundation, the University and the Parish share the same mission of uplifting the Thomasian spirituality. And owing to their success is the presence of Thomasians who gave dynamic contributions in the activities of the Parish.

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Serving as a lector-commentator at the Parish since her early grade school years, Ma. Fatima de Chavez, a 23-year-old law student, said it was, at first, merely reading.

“Bata pa lang kasi kami noon kaya I thought, the task was merely reading,” de Chavez said. “But serving the Parish for a number of years made me realize how fulfilling it is to serve the Church by merely reading the Word of the God.”

Truly, the Santissimo Rosario Parish may be young, but its colorful history—sheltering the Nuestra Señora de La Naval and providing spiritual nourishment its parishioners as well as contributing to the development of the community—more than makes up for what it lacks in years.

Throughout the years, the Parish has etched a deep union with the people it serves. It continues to fulfill its commitment as a herald of good news and solidify its role in deepening the faith of the people to God through its patroness, Mary. Kris P. Bayos and Mary Rose M. Pabelonia

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