MANILA, Sept. 30, 2015— It was barely six years ago when the construction of the church building began. Now, Bocaue’s new church building is rising fast with the help of the community.
The church, to be dedicated to a Korean saint, will rise in the barangay of Lolomboy in Bocaue, Bulacan, a town known for its religiosity.
Saint Andrew Kim-Taegon is the first Korean-born Catholic priest who stayed in the Philippines in the early 18th century.
During the Joseon Dynasty wheb Christianity was suppressed and many Christians were persecuted, Kim-Taegon, who at that time was still a seminarian, moved from his homeland to Lolomboy to continue his study.
Fr. Vic Robles of Sto. Cristo and St. Andrew Kim – Taegon Parish, said the saint’s diary revealed that he stayed in aplace called “Hacienda de Lolomboy” owned by the Dominican friars from 1830s to 1841.
The saint described it as a “quiet place of prayer and conducive for retreats.”
Robles said Kim -Taegon busied himself with studies with the Dominicans while in Lolomboy until he left for China where he was ordained a deacon in 1844 and became a priest the next year.
He returned to Korea in October 1845 leading a group of French missionaries where he started his mission to evangelize.
For this, he was arrested and sent to prison in Seoul, where he was charged as a traitor and tagged the ringleader of a heretical sect. He was sentenced to death and was beheaded on Sept. 16, 1846.
Kim -Taegon was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1925, and canonized by Pope John Paul II in May 1984.
Seeing the need to widen the devotion to the saint, former parish priest Fr. Avel Sampana started the construction of a bigger church in 2009, during the 50th anniversary of the parish.
In 1986, the parish was declared a “sister parish” of a shrine dedicated to the saint in Korea.
No other than then Seoul Archbishop Stephen Cardinal Kim went to Lolomboy and had a statue of St. Andrew Kim made, one that is now enshrined in the altar of the old church.
A few meters from the church is a Korean shrine where St. Andrew Kim is believed to have stayed. It houses some relics of the saint and the convent of the Sisters of St. Andrew who takes care of the place.
Building Christian community
Robles is known for leading the construction of the famous pilgrim shrine to the Divine Mercy in Marilao, Bulacan, where he was rector for many years.
He emphasized that it should not be forgotten that while a new church building is being constructed, the Christian community must be built as well.
“We may see churches finished in an instant,” said Robles. “What would a grand church do if there are no parishioners? It is better to have a meager place of worship but the faith is very much alive.”
He also said that with their parish sandwiched by big Christian sects, it is imperative to strengthen the faith of the parishioners, and the building of the structure “will follow naturally.”
“When the faith is firm, everything will follow,” he said. “If there is no faith building, the church will not exist, or not be finished.”
“My number one job is preaching, integration of mercy, then building,” he said. “I believe once the community is compassionate and merciful, the church will be rapidly finished. (Luke Godoy / CBCPNews)