Published: 15 January 2014
A series of celebrations throughout 2014 under the title of “Filipino Augustinians @ 30: Living in Community, Serving God in Freedom under Grace” commemorates the thirtieth anniversary of the Augustinian Province of Cebu.
The celebrations began with a Mass in January 2014, to which the Augustinian prior general in Rome, Father Alejandro Moral Anton O.S.A., sent a message to congratulated his Filipino brethren. He noted that “the greatest and most current challenge is the development of the Order in Asia-Pacific region.”
“Keeping in mind the socio-economic and demographic circumstances, it appears to be that this gigantic part of the world is becoming, is already, the part of the planet most suitable for our evangelization,” Fr Alejandro continued.
The year-long activities continued with an ongoing exhibit featuring the Province’s history, showcasing paintings and a number of significant artefacts under its custody. This was first display at SM City in Cebu for the month of January. The Province has also organized seminars and workshops on cultural preservation. In Filipino history, the Augustinians were often the forerunners of cultural patrimony as the first infrastructure builders in their mission towns.
The first group of Augustinians arrived in 1565 from Spain and Mexico led by the great Augustinian circumnavigator, Fr Andres Urdaneta. In Cebu they found in a scorched hut the image of Santo Niño given by Ferdinand Magellan and the chaplain Fr Valderramato in 1521 to Queen Juana, wife of the Cebu chief King Humabon. The first church and convent of the Augustinians were erected on the site where the image was found. From there, they fostered deep devotion to the Child Jesus among Filipinos, especially in the Visayan region.
The year 2015 will feature major Augustinian celebrations, being the 450th anniversary of the rediscovery of this Santo Niño icon, the marking of the 450 years of Augustinian presence in the islands and the 50th year of the elevation of the Santo Niño Church at Cebu into a basilica minore (minor basilica) will all be observed.
In what then will be 450 years of continuous Augustinian presence in the Philippines, the indigenous Province of Cebu was solemnly inaugurated on 15th January 1984, on the feast of Sto. Niño de Cebu. The new province has then been tasked to administer several known institutions, such as the Basilica del Sto. Niño (Cebu), University of San Agustin (lloilo), Colegio San Agustin-Bacolod (Negros Occidental), Guadalupe Monastery (Makati), and San Agustin Centre of Studies (Quezon City), among others.