The Coming of the CICM Missionaries in Tagudin
In the aftermath of the revolution there was chaos in society and in the church,
there was also the danger that the Philippine Independent Church would attract
many Catholics. The Catholic Church had to struggle hard at the end of the 19th
century. Freemasons and liberals campaigned against all that was Spanish and
Catholic. More than a thousand Spanish frailes left the country and the local
clergy were left with insufficient personnel to take over all the pastoral work.
It is with in this religio-political context that the arrival of the CICM
missionaries has to be seen.|
The Americans founded schools, hospitals and dispensaries. Religious education
came under the control of the American Protestants. They infiltrated everywhere
via homes for students, cultural contacts and clubs.
The CICM (Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae) is an exclusive missionary
institute founded in Belgium in 1862. It was originally conceptualized by the Theophile Vebist (1823-168) as the Belgian mission for China. This religious
congregation has the general purpose of converting the infidels and as its
specific goal, the proclamation of faith to the Chinese and to attend to the welfare of the
The CICM had started their missionary activities in China, their original
mission field, in 1865. Some twenty years later, in 1888, they prevailed upon to
undertake missionary work in what was then called the “Independent State of Congo”
which later became the Belgian Congo in Central Africa.
The Municipality of Tagudin, a small seaport along the Ilocos coast just north of
La Union Province, which was then part of the sub-province of Lepanto-Amburayan
of the Mountain Province, became an important center for the CICM missionary
ministry . Tagudin remained mountain province territory
until 1920 when Amburayan was made part of the province of Ilocos Sur.
The mission of Tagudin was created in 1586. Fr. Matias Manrique, OSA, was one of
the first Augustinian Missionaries to set foot in Tagudin. He was officially
appointed in 1590. However, Tagudin did not have any permanent parish priest because
it was part of a mission territory which included the neighboring towns of Santa
Cruz and Santa Lucia to the north, and Bangar to the south. For two centuries,
these neighboring towns did not have well defined ecclesiastical boundaries. It was
only in May 1809 that Tagudin had a resident priest, who belonged either to the
order of St. Augustine or to the secular clergy. After the departure of the last
Augustinians friar in January 1898, diocesan priests took care of the Parish.
They were Frs. Norberto Tamayo, Raymundo Quilop, Cosme Abaya and Quintin Donato.
They succeeded each other until the arrival of Fr. Carlu. This interrupted
ministry of good and loyal priest may account for the fact that Tagudin has
always remained a catholic community.
Building on what the CICM missionaries had started, Fr. Albert Rabe, the
diocesan parish priest, has introduced since June 2000 pastoral renewal in
the parish, called GIMONG (community). This Gimong primary aims at building
relationships among people in small communities. It is also a way of being
able to respond to the modern challenges. This gimong follows the
pastoral framework of building Basic Ecclesial Communities, sharing gospel
faith, doing ministries being linked with the Church.
At present, Tagudin has been shaped, molded and guided by the Augustinians
during the Spanish colonization and by the CICM and ICM missionaries who have worked for
almost the whole twentieth century in this parish. Unquestionably, Tagudin
became one of the centers of the CICM Missionary work in the north. Because of
this, Tagudin has produced quite an impressive number of priests, nuns, teachers
and other professionals who were influenced and inspired by the CICM charism.
One example is Fr. Eligio lubina, CICM and Sr. Crispina Lubina, ICM.
In addition, Tagudin is gradually finding a new way of being Church in response
to the present challenges. It has become the focus of church organization.
|The Arrival of the ICM Missionaries
|The Two Pioneers described as “crazy” were very daring
for they left India to begin a new missionary congregation.|
The first one a professed Sister who left her congregation to live in India for her
missionary vocation was Mother Marie Louise de Meester. The other one was only a
novice but dared to follow all the way from India was Sister Marie Ursule.
The congregation of the Missionary Sister of St. Augustine is one of the
youngest religious institutions in the Catholic Church. It counts not more than
63 years of existence, having been founded in the South India in 1897 by Very
Reverend Mother Marie Luis de Meester who was then a Cannoness-Regular of St.
Augustine from the medieval abbey of Notre Dame de la Novelle plants of Cypres,
Belgium. At the request of Very Reverend Father Van Hecke, Superior General of
the congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, His Holiness Pope Puis X,
deigned to express his desire to have the Missionary Canonesses of St. Augustine
cooperate with the Belgian fathers for the salvation of souls.
Very Reverend Mother Marie Louise de Meester, who was then active in British India,
consented to make the Philippines her new field for the apostole. And so it was
in 1910 that Reverend Mother Foundress took his great country to her heart and
started from India for the Philippines. They arrived in Manila on 10th of June.
On the foundation of Tagudin, Sr. Marie Lutgarde wrote:
“On June 20, we left for Tagudin by boat. We made a halt at Dagupan where we
spent the night in a public inn, called “Rest House”. In the morning we took the
boat again for Tagudin where we arrived at about 2pm. Crowds of people lined the
shore and brought us in a kind of procession to the town. The two priests
preceded us on horseback. Mother Foundress and Mother Charles had a carriage,
the only horse-drawn vehicle in the region, it seems. Mother Vincent and I
followed in an ox-cart. The people crowded upon us to kiss our hands- a pious
custom derived from the Spaniards. It took us about half an hour to reach
the plaza, from thence we went to the church for the “te Deum”. The priests then
led us to the rectory and afterwards to our convent, where the officials of the
town, with their wives and their children, welcomed us with flowers and heaped
platters of home-made sweetmeats. The language of the region is Ilocano, but
many know Spanish. Among the children frequenting the public Schools, some speak
in English, but the adults who know English are very few.”
The Mission would undoubtedly have failed had they not been harnessed for the
struggle with the armor of unlimited trust of the foundress in Divine Providence
and her appareled example for courage and devotion. She herself taught classes
daily and still found to direct and sustain the teaching effort of her young and
experienced companions and to listen to the tale of human misery which the
people did not delay in coming to pour into her sympathetic ears. Daily, after
classes were over, she went to the homes of the poor and the sick and brought
healing materials to help in comforting them and bringing their hearts nearer to God.
No labor was too mean nor too strenuous for her zeal. The Sisters could not
afford to pay servants to keep house for them while they were in the classrooms.
Consequently, they divided the work among themselves Reverend Mother Foundress was as
often as any of her companions sweeping and scrubbing floors doing the washing
and the cooking. Yet, inspite of their extreme poverty and excessive labor which
characterized that first month in the mission, they were very happy, for they
were very fervent.
The congregation was barely founded and demands for the sisters were so great
that the Foundress could not await for the hour of their profession to send them
into the field which she always saw before her “while with the harvest”.