August 2, 2012, was the 50th anniversary celebration of the Franciscan seminary in the Philippines. In 1962 Our Lady of the Angels opened its doors to the first class of seminarians. Br. Clete Riederer and I flew to Manila to represent our Cincinnati-based Franciscan province at the golden jubilee celebration.
There were five provinces who were involved in establishing the new seminary because all of them had friars ministering in the Philippines. One group was from Italy, one from Spain, and three were from the United States. The U.S. provinces were from California, Wisconsin, and Ohio. Naturally, each group of friars had different ideas about running a seminary. The greatest surprise was that the friars all eventually learned to get along and adjust to one another, though there were cultural differences that had to be overcome.
Part of the jubilee celebration was the ordination of three new Franciscan priests in the seminary auditorium. It was a crowded affair with over fifty priests on hand. With the monsoon rains pouring down, the humidity was well over the saturation point.
The following day we celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of the Angels. The name has great importance in the life of St. Francis of Assisi. It was the name of the little chapel where Francis and his brothers first settled with the blessings of the local bishop.
For the feast day itself, there were two bishops and a goodly number of friars on hand. The choir from St. Scholastica’s College had charge of the music and did admirable work in leading the congregation in singing the Mass. Archbishop Palma of Cebu City presided as we all gave thanks to God for the many good gifts bestowed on the students and faculty and staff of the seminary over the years.
Featured photo credit: PhotoXpress/Bertold Werkmann