The oldest Catholic church in Mindanao, the San Salvador del Mundo Parish located in Caraga, Davao Oriental, has reopened after two years of restoration work.
The old edifice built in 1883 and declared as a national historical site in 2012, underwent restoration under the initiative of its former parish priest, Fr. Uldarico Toroba and Fr. Jay Ramos.
The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) took charge of the preservation of Mindanao’s oldest church with the project worth Php 20 million. The Sangguniang Bayan of Caraga also provided assistance in the restoration project.
The Caraga church was turned over back to the local Diocese of Mati on July 6 and will be reopened officially during the 137th parochial fiesta on July 16, 2020.
“The day has finally come for the people of Caraga, for them to come and pray again inside the church,” Most Reverend Bishop Abel Apigo said during the turnover ceremony.
“They have waited for the restoration. Making them happier is having a beautiful place of worship. The priceless collections that one can see inside speaks so much of the strong Catholic faith of the people.”
Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang said during the celebration that the church restoration is a symbol of unity between the church and state.
“It is proof of a successful spiritual undertaking of the church and the state,” Gov. Dayanghirang said. “There will be more collaborations for the people. In the province, we can boast of exchanges of support between the province and the Diocese, and the latest instance of support is evident in this time of the pandemic.”
Executive Director Restituto Aguilar of the NHCP recalled in his pre-recorded message what went through during the restoration process of the San Salvador del Mundo Parish.
“The restoration was a very meticulous process,” Aguilar said. “Based on the restoration guidelines of the agency, the walls were thoroughly cleaned and repaired, as well as the doors, windows, the roof, especially the corals. The Commission wanted to help the locality, the institution, and the parish so that it will remain preserved.”
The local government of Caraga also allotted Php 2 million for the 137-year-old church’s sound system and for the sanctuarium and baptistry.
Ilocos Norte’s 209-year old St. Anne Parish church in Piddig was also closed for almost five years for restoration and was turned over to Piddig Parish on July 25, 2019.
Four heritage churches in Bohol are set to reopen in 2021, coinciding with the upcoming 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines.
SEND CHEERS in the comments below to the parish of Caraga Church for reopening its historic doors once again to the Catholic faithful.
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