St. Anthony of Padua Parish hosts groundbreaking for Santo Niño de Cebu Shrine in Agassiz, BC

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  • By: Socorro-Babes Castro Newland             


    Sunday, May 8, 2022 marks the official kick off for the construction of the Shrine of Santo Niño de Cebu located at 7237 Morrow Road, Agassiz, British Columbia. Everyone is invited to join and be a part of this significant milestone for the Filipino-Canadian community. There will be a groundbreaking ceremony and  Eucharistic Celebration at 1:00 pm to be presided by His Excellency David J. Monroe, Bishop Emeritus of Kamloops,  BC.  Expected completion date of the Shrine will be in summer of this year. When the Shrine is erected, it will be presented to the Archdiocese of Vancouver as a gift from the Filipino-Canadian community in celebration of 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines. The fundraising raffle will be drawn at the end of this day.


    Rev. Fr. Dennis O. Flores (Parish Priest of St. Anthony of Padua, Agassiz) envisioned a Shrine built in Canada to mark the 500th Anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines. He shared his ‘dream’ with       Anthony “Tony” Ortega (Cebuano Society President) and his wife Mary, and Jerry & Zenia Rentuza, and they openly accepted this idea. It has now spawned into an indelible project that aims to house the Holy Image of Santo Niño de Cebu, to be brought from Cebu City for enthronement. Fr. Dennis didn’t leave any stones unturned until he got approval from the Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver to allow a portion of St. Anthony of Padua Parish grounds to become the site for the construction of the Shrine.


    Portuguese Navigator, Ferdinand Magellan landed in Cebu in 1521.  He was welcomed by the King and Queen of Cebu, who embraced Christianity, and they, along with 800 Cebuanos were baptized.  They were given the gift of the Holy Image of the Sto. Niño for their accepting Christianity. Cebu is a bustling city in Southern Philippines, founded in 1565,  where Santo Niño Basilica was founded by Frays Andres de Urdaneta and Diego de Herrera. It is the oldest Roman Catholic Church in the country, allegedly built on the spot where the image of the Santo Niño de Cebú was given.


    This aspiration can only be realized through collaborative efforts from the entire Filipino Community in BC. It didn’t take long for the Cebuano Society of BC-Canada president, Tony Ortega, to initiate inviting various Filipino-Canadian groups to join the fundraising efforts that started in 2021. Tony’s calls were heeded with unprecedented response. The projected cost for the construction of the Shrine is $450,000. To-date, the actual solicited funds is running close to $335,000. It has still quite a way to go,  and as Tony keeps mentioning during his donation solicitation blitzes across the lower mainland, “this project shouldn’t be credited to just one particular organization alone. The entire Filipino-Canadian Community is in this together. The realization of this project relies on our Bayanihan spirit. Let’s all help each other in building a permanent home for our Señor Santo Niño de Cebu here in BC.”


    The spearheading group of this project wishes to express their sincerest gratitude to the following:

    STEERING COMMITTEE: Fr. Dennis O. Flores, Deacon Greg Barcelon, Anthony S Ortega, Mary Ortega, Celso ”Boy” & Marie Holgado, Mila de Castro, Ben & Beth Hernandez, Romy & Ching Colobong, Jerry & Zenia Rentuza, Ed Panes, Mel Abonita, Lourdes Cerino, Connie Costas, Lina Aro, Nestor Sanoria, Christine Mar Lising, Beccie Bokenfohr, and Robert & Socorro-Babes Castro Newland.


    ASSOCIATIONS/ORGANIZATIONS: Cebuano Society of Canada-BC, BISDAK Vancouver, BC, OLGC Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (Marie Holgado), United Leyteño Society, Knights of Columbus-BC/Yukon,  Circulo Pampangueño, Friends of Señor Santo Niño,  Vancouver BC,  Santo Niño Group of OLGC,  Luzvimin-Bisaya Association of Edmonton, AB,  Fil-Can Cultural Heritage Society (FCCHS) of Surrey, BC,  Filipino-Canadian Seniors Club of BC.


    PARISH CHURCHES:  St. Anthony of Padua, Agassiz; St Monica, Richmond; Canadian Martyrs, Richmond; St. Mary, Vancouver; St. John The Apostle Vancouver; Our Lady of Immaculate Conception; Delta;          St. Jude Parish Vancouver; Our Lady of Mercy Parish, Burnaby; St. Patrick Parish, Vancouver; Our Lady of Fatima, Coquitlam;  and “DAMBANA”  – The Grotto, Portland, OR ( Dolly Pangan-Specht).


    BUSINESSES: CMH Financial Advisor (Celso “Boy” M. Holgado); Star Box Express (Art and Daisy Mallares); Jollibee Vancouver BC; Booster Juice Ironwood (Jerry & Zenia Rentuza); Care Counts (Victor & Mila de Castro);  Coal Prints & Signs, Surrey; One Filipino Cooperative; Mary’s Travel (Rey & Lily Reyes); Soul Mate Production (William Orsua); RK Sound & Lights (Roy Oquendo & Ken); Civic Hotel/Marriott, Surrey BC., Pampanga’s Cuisine.


    MEDIA PARTNERS: Reyfort Media Group (Rey & Cely Fortaleza);  Philippine Canadian Inquirer          (Alan & Jhynet Yong).


    SILENT AUCTION DONORS: (Visual Artists)—Chito Maravilla | Donna Lynne Osea-Menor | Oliver Jarudal Menor | Mayo Landicho | Leo Orpilla Cunanan | Beach Grove Laser Inc (Mary Seitz) |DANVIC BRIONES.


    SPECIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Mamac Mendoza Design and Development Corporation owned by Architects Jasper and Richel Mamac of Cebu,  Philippines,  for the original design of the Shrine; Mr. Nonito and Mrs. Diana Limchua of the Oasis of Love Cebu and Cebu Catholic Television Network and CINE Cebu. They’re also the donors of the Image of Señor Santo Niño and the Blessed Pedro Calungsod; and Ms. Mylene Villanueva Lim.


    The Philippine Consulate General Vancouver BC and Mable Elmore, Member of Legislative Assembly.


    1. The next fundraising event will be the formal gala event on Sunday, June 5, 2022 at the Fraserview Banquet Hall, Vancouver BC entitled, “An Evening Gala of Gift-Giving and Celebration”. Tickets are $100 each inclusive of dinner. Written and Directed by Babes Castro-Newland, it promises to be a star-studded night to remember with top-notch musical performers. For ticket and sponsorship inquiries, please contact the following: Tony (778) 751-6110, Marie (778) 888-3658, Mila (604) 614-4068, Zenia (778) 859-9839


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