Celebrating 25 Years of Sta. Maria della Strada Parish!
The journey of Sta. Maria della Strada to become a parish started in the late 1970s, when the churchgoers of the St. Joseph Church on Aurora Boulevard and the Ateneo Campus chapel had swelled in numbers. The needs of the vast area covering 14 barangays as well as that of a large transient student population from the University of the Philippines, Ateneo, Maryknoll (now Miriam College) and St. Bridget’s school—had to be served.
A group of Loyola residents, acting upon a suggestion by Fr. William Kreutz, S.J., about the possibility of creating a new parish, held a series of community meetings starting in January of 1979. An earnest prayer drive led by the members of the Family Rosary Crusade began to gather support for the idea from the community. In April 1979, a group of representatives from Balara Filters, Pansol, Varsity Hills, Xavierville, La Vista and Alta Vista, accompanied by the parish priest of St. Joseph, Monsignor Arsenio Bautista, and two Jesuit priests, presented the petition to Cardinal Sin, who approved it immediately and appointed an interim priest in charge, Bishop Godofredo Padernal to undertake the parish project.
In the search to find the site for the church, it was eventually discovered that a piece of La Vista property at the corner of Katipunan and Pansol, designated as a park area, was not turned over to the National Housing Authority. The NHA required only that a referendum be conducted among the members of the homeowners association for approval of the donation of the lot to the Archdiocese of Manila as the site for construction of the proposed parish Church. The proposal was approved by 97% of the homeowners.
On January 9, 1981, Cardinal Sin signed the official documents creating the new parish, and on March 25, 1981, he designated Fr. Patricio H. Lim as the first permanent parish priest of Sta. Maria della Strada, a post he held for more than 20 years.
Named Sta. Maria della Strada or Our Lady of the Way because one of the parishioners, upon reading the biography of St. Ignatius of Loyola on his feastday, discovered a picture of Sta. Maria della Strada, at whose wayside shrine St. Ignatius used to stop and pray. Since the Jesuits had done so much for the community, it seemed fitting to name the parish in honor of Our Lady of the Way.
Despite the absence of a physical structure, the parish vibrated with life in the intensified prayers, mortifications, Holy Hour Vigils and Holy Masses for the intention of the establishment of the new church.
At one of the early brainstorming meetings, the group decided to call the emerging parish the “Living Church of Sta. Maria della Strada”. The final agreement that emerged on the structure of the church was consistent with the character of the “Living Church”—the projection of the concept of a church focused on people characterized by dynamism and openness, as seen in the acts of sharing and serving.
To affirm this concept, the people who were the “Living Church” gathered regularly for outdoor masses on the designated church site, under a makeshift tent.
The fund drive for the construction of the church went into full gear with a series of fundraising events managed by a group of energetic parish ladies as well as a group known as the “Friends of Fr. Pat.” Launched in March of 1981, less than 5 months later, the cornerstone was laid for the church. Embedded in the cornerstone were the medals and religious items once buried in a previously considered site, as well as a parchment scroll with the names of generous benefactors.
In a symbolic ground breaking ceremony held on September 12, 1981, representatives of the different parish communities affirmed their unity by pouring pots of soil from each of their areas into the grounds of the future parish church.
Donations in cash and in kind poured in during the period of construction as the church took shape, incorporating all the special features that gave it a distinctive character: the precious marble altar table used by Pope John Paul II during the beatification of the first Filipino saint, San Lorenzo Ruiz; the life-sized Crucifix with a kayumanggi Christ above the main altar; the Italian mosaic icons of Sta. Maria della Strada and St. Joseph; and the simple Blessed Sacrament Chapel, among others.
With the concerted efforts of all the concerned members of the community and their generous friends, the construction was completed in two years and the Church was inaugurated on May 29, 1983.
Shortly after the completion of the church construction, the community launched another fund drive, this time for the purpose of building the service centers now known as the Landas Center and the Lingkod Center.
The three story Landas Center is a functional building that provides adequate space for varied purposes—parish offices, retreats and recollections, training rooms and dorm facilities for trainees, as well as a social hall that also serves as a mortuary chapel. Outdoor spaces serve as a meditation garden and an area for receptions and church bazaars.
Adjacent to the Landas Center is the Lingkod building. Like Landas, this structure serves many parish needs. It provides rooms for meetings and a library for quiet study. It also allots space for livelihood programs for out-of-work youths and mothers, as well as a medical and dental clinic.
Sta. Maria Della Strada: The Living Church in Action
Fr. Pat Lim once wrote: “Sambahan is the building, a place of worship….simbahan is the people, the parishioners of Sta. Maria della Strada.”
From the start, the mission of Sta. Maria della Strada was to empower its members to develop their full potential so that they would become the living and loving manifestation of Jesus Christ in their particular time and place.
From the beginning, the Sta. Maria della Strada parishioners were given opportunities to interact with one another, to become more aware of their common concerns and their various needs.
Parish pastoral programs, initially coordinated through volunteer committees such as Worship, Education, Social Services, Temporalities and the Youth Committee abounded. Involvement of parishioners in the various activities of the forty eight (48) different church organizations promoted the sense of identity, community and stability that the parish set as its principal goals. Various programs were initiated that promoted both the spiritual development and tried to address the temporal needs of its parishioners.
It was during the first Parish Congress in 1992, celebrating and assessing the Parish’s first decade and attended by 100 participants, that the parish community the parish’s first Vision and Mission statements:
United in Christ and belonging to his Church, with common desire and purpose we go beyond ourselves, loving and serving God and others, aware of and responsive to the needs of parishioners and the larger community.
Nagkakaisa kay Kristo at kasapi sa Kanyang simbahan, taglay ang ipinagbuklod na hangarin at layunin, nagmamalasakit tayo sa pagmamahal at paglilingkod sa Diyos at kapwa nang may kamalayan at pagtugon sa pangangailangan ng parokya at ng sambayanan.
To move towards our vision of a united, loving and serving Church, we commit ourselves to pray and worship, Spirit-led, to integrate faith and life in community with others, to evangelize ourselves and others, mobilizing families into Christian communities, creating reality-based understanding of what it means to be Catholic Christian; to serve humbly, responsibly, generously and selflessly; in solidarity with the poor; sharing resources and empowering all to develop their full potential as persons and as Christians in a truly Christian community.
Upang marating ang pangarap na maging simbahang nagkakaisa, nagmamahal at naglilingkod, tumatalaga tayong manalangin at sumamba, dala ng Espiritu, upang maisabuhay natin ang pananampalataya kaisa ng ating parokya; ipangaral at ipamahagi ang ebanghelyo sa pamilya at samahan upang lalong maranasan at maunawaan ang pagiging tunay na Katolikong Kristiyano; maglingkod ng may kababaang loob, pananagutan, kusang pagbibigay at pagmamalasakit; nakikiisa sa mga mahihirap; nagbabahagi ng anumang kakayahang maibibigay sa pagpapaganap sa lahat bilang tao at Kristiyano sa isang tunay na sambayanan ni Kristo.
It was in the second parish Congress, on May 26, 2001, that the mantle of leadership was passed by Fr. Pat Lim to Fr. Vic Apacible, the incoming Parish Priest, along with the resolutions of the Parish Congress II plenary. Fr. Vic Apacible was replaced by Fr. Aris Sison, who stayed Parish Priest of Sta. Maria della Strada parish. Because of the Diocese of Cubao’s rotation policy, Fr. Aris Sison was sent as Parish Priest to the Two Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and he was succeeded by Fr. Emmanuel Sarez in 2006.
It was during a two-day planning exercise held on October, 2006, with Fr. Sarez and selected lay leaders of the parish that a Tri-Council structure was adopted, with a Parish Planning Council, A Parish Implementation and Coordinating Council and a Finance Council, were formed to assist the Parish Priest with the pastoral affairs of the parish. It was also during this planning exercise that the Parish’s revised Vision and Mission statements were formulated that incorporated the most relevant concepts of the previous statements and that emphasized the role of the parish as a community of the faithful:
The Sta. Maria della Strada parish, under the guidance of Mary, her patroness, is a vibrant community of faith, hope and charity, ever-growing, with clear and effective programs to enhance the spiritual and temporal lives of its parishioners, especially the poor.
Ang parokya ng Sta. Maria della Strada, sa ilalim ng patnubayan ni Maria na kanyang patrona, ay isang masigasig na pamayanang may pananampalataya, pag-asa at bukas-palad, patuloy sa paglago, may malinaw at mabisang mga palatuntunan upang mapag-ibayo ang pang-ispiritwal at pansamantalang buhay ng kanyang mananampalataya lalung-lalo na ang mga dukha.
We, the parish community of Sta. Maria della Strada, nurtured by the presence of God, and empowered by the spirit of servant leadership, are committed to grow as a living church of the poor, responding to the spiritual and temporal needs of people to attain the fullness of life.
Kami, ang parokya ng Sta. Maria della Strada, inaruga ng mapagmahal na kalinga ng Diyos, at pinasisidhing diwa ng mapaglingkod na pamumuno, ay makatalaga upang lumago bilang isang buhay na sambayanan ng mga kapus-palad. Tumutugon sa mag pang-ispiritwal at pansamantalang pangangailangan ng tao upang makamit ang kaganapan ng buhay.