Santísimo Rosario Parish
Serving as a spiritual haven for the Thomasian community, the UST Chapel (Santisimo Rosario Chapel) is the most appropriate place for the Thomasian practice of faith. The Chapel has become the venue for various university religious activities which include the annual Misa de Apertura, a decades-old tradition of officially opening the academic year with a Mass of the Holy Spirit and the delivery of the academic lecture called the Discurso de Apertura; the annual novena to Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary for the La Naval celebration; and the Heritage Christmas Concert.
Along the outskirts of Sampaloc District in the City of Manila is a unique Parish, for its seat is at the heart of the Catholic University of the Philippines.
For the past 70 years, the Santisimo Rosario Parish has been the spiritual haven of both the students of the University of Santo Tomas and of nearby residents.
During the turbulent months at the dawn of the Second World War, then Archbishop of Manila, the Most. Rev. Michael O’ Dougherty D.D. issued a decree on March 21, 1942, establishing the Santisimo Rosario Parish. One month later, on April 26, He presided over a Pontifical High Mass at the UST Chapel, with which he canonically inaugurated the parish, with Fr. Emiliano Serrano OP as its first pastor.
Under the care of the Dominican Fathers, the parish continued to grow as a community of faith with a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and imbued with the spirit of St. Dominic.Through the decades, parish organizations were organized, each giving its contribution to the parish’s evangelical mission.
The 80’s was a decade of many changes. This time, the parish was concerned in establishing a vibrant presence within its territorial jurisdiction. Processions began to be held outside the campus. Parish activities were brought to the streets. All these were initiatives of Fr. Gallardo Bombase, O.P., parish priest from 1985-1992.
After Fr. Bombase’s term, he was succeeded by a Dominican fresh from missionary work in Maco, Tagum in Davao. Fr. Jose P. Salazar, O.P. Fr. Salazar’s thrust was to further strengthen the Basic Ecclesial Commnunities in the Parish. As a true missionary pastor, he tirelessly visited every area of the parish, celebrating mass in the streets and visiting the sick.
Fr. Salazar’s term was cut short when Pope John Paul II appointed him Bishop of Batanes. In 1996, the Santisimo Rosario Parish welcomed a new pastor in the person of Fr. Eugenio O. Cabillon, O.P. Fr. Cabillon carried over the advocacy of his predecessor to strengthen the BECs. He likewise initiated the revisiting of the parish mission-vision statements.
In the year 2003, another Dominican missionary became pastor of Santisimo Rosario Parish, Fr. Jaime C. Alamillo, O.P. He continued to look after the strengthening of the BECs, and at the same time improved the facilities of the parish, in particular, the parish office. A mezzanine was constructed to cater to the needs of the various parish organizations.
The next pastor of Santisimo Rosario Parish is a long-time University administrator who also served as Prior of the Dominican Fathers in UST. He likewise worked as a missionary in Ethiopia and in the United States. The Parish celebrated its 70th anniversary under the care of Fr. Franklin F. Beltran OP.
At present, the Parish is headed by Fr. Louie R. Coronel, O.P., a young Dominican historian who was installed on January 12, 2016. He will oversee the Parish’s 75th anniversary.
The structure, the sanctuary, the image
The Chapel was among the earliest edifices in the Campus of the University of Santo Tomas. It was completed on November 13, 1932. Since then, this chapel became the venue of the official and religious functions of the University. When the parish was established in 1942, this chapel likewise became the center of the liturgico-sacramental life of the parishioners.
On its high altar was enshrined the image of Our Lady of the Rosary, transferred from the old chapel of the University in Intramuros.
On September 28, 1942, the image of Our Lady of La Naval de Manila, which was saved from the bombings that destroyed the Old Santo Domingo Church in Intramuros, was transferred to the University of Santo Tomas and enshrined at the main altar of the UST Chapel. Thus, the first fiesta celebration of the Santisimo Rosario Parish, set on October 7, the universal feast of the Holy Rosary, was graced by the presence of the historical image of the Blessed Mother, and this went on for several more years until the year 1954, when the La Naval was solemnly transferred to her new and permanent temple, the Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City.
The original parish image was then restored to its former place at the high altar, until the implementation of the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council.
The Church sanctuary was renovated in 1999, and on December 7 of the same year, His Eminence, Jaime Cardinal Sin, consecrated the altar.
Rev. Fr. Louie R. Coronel, O.P.