Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Joseph



Facade of Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Joseph

St. Joseph Parish was founded on November 23, 1951. With the vitality and enthusiasm of a Joseph and through the help of Francisca Tamesis Capacillo and Catalina Cazenas--the persons who were responsible for appealing to the Vicar General for a parish priest--Fr. Jose S. Sunga set out to build a church in Quirino District, an emerging community at the heart of Quezon City which was built to cater to the low-income labor group.

The first problem that presented itself to Fr. Sunga was a place of worship. With a community of one hundred families situated in a vast expanse of carabao pasture, inaccessible to transportation facilities and with the few commercial buildings several kilometers away, the construction of a church was a dilemma.

At that time, the municipality had just built a school in Durian Street. The operations was to start after six months, when the new school year was to begin. Fr. Sunga went to negotiate with the municipality and rented with his own money one of the school buildings for Php 130.00 a month. Half of the building was converted into a chapel while the other half served as the rectory.

On December 7, 1951 the first Mass was held in Durian St. along with the installation of Fr. Sunga as the Parish Priest of St. Joseph Parish.

Main Altar/Interior of Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Joseph

Since the lease contract would end by June 1952, Fr. Sunga started looking for a new place. Taking into consideration the possible growth of Quirino community and the accessibility of the church to the neighboring communities, he finally chose a 1,700 sq. meter lot in Aurora Boulevard.

On March 1, 1952 the ground-breaking for the construction of the church took place with one a makeshift barong-barong standing where St. Joseph Chapel is situated now.

Many people have endlessly speculated on how the parish got its name. Some said that it was chosen since Fr. Sunga is his namesake. Other said that it was because St. Joseph is the Patron of Holy Death and the Provider of the Holy Family. And still others maintain that St. Joseph is the Patron of the Workers and Quirino District was the first extensive low-cost housing project intended for the low-income working sector.

Believing in the power of prayer, Msgr. Bautista proposed a Holy Hour of Adoration. Initiated by fr. Lucia of Italy, Fr. Roger Cortez, a Salesian priest, brought the idea to the Philippines. On March 19, 1986, coinciding with the Feast of St. Joseph, the Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Chapel was inaugurated. The chapel sought to motivate the people towards spiritual renewal and enrichment. Despite this being a 24-hour vigil, the parishioners were able to set aside an hour of their time a day in service to the parish and most especially in sacrifice and love for God.

Image of St. Joseph in the Shrine

By the early part of 1985, the area allotted for the mortuary (part of the original plan) began to be functional. The arrangements for an educational center (not part of the original plan) came late in the previous year. With available space seen in the new church complex and in the existing rectory and community center, it was deemed wise to add a kindergarten school for the parish. Catholic parents expressed interest in having one. So the good Monsignor decided, with the help of expert advice, to allow construction adjustments for such a school.

Thus, the St. Joseph Educational Center (SJEC) was born. It was formally inaugurated and blessed on June 23, 1985. SJEC absorbed some of the Catholic children enrolled in a nearby Protestant school and catered to parents whose concern was not only concentrated to the intellectual progress of their children but to their spiritual growth as well. The school places special emphasis on religious formation and works of evangelization in line with the parish vision of a dynamic Catholic community.

On November 12, 1999, St. Joseph Parish was conferred the title Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Joseph by His Eminence Jaime L. Cardinal Sin. In a span of forty-eight long years, it has grown to what it is today, from a humble beginning of a few thousand residents to over eighty thousand supportive, cooperative and devoted parishioners.

Excerpt from Shrines, Incarnating Christ Today. St. Paul Philippines, 2004. Photos from boredbone.blogspot.com and flickr.com.

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