The UST Theological Society (UST-TS), in collaboration with the Office of the Vice Rector for
Religious Affairs, UST Campus Ministry, and the Santίsimo Rosario Parish, held the Commemoration of Blessed Buenaventura Garcίa Paredes, O.P., and all Thomasian Martyrs on November 6, 2018. It is an annual University-wide activity in honor of the martyrs of the faith who were, at a time, administrators, professors, or students of the University.

Representatives from the different faculties, colleges, and institutes of the University and
visitors from neighboring Dominican institutions attended the activity, which was divided into three parts: a conference conducted at the Paredes Building, a Eucharist offered at the Santίsimo Rosario Parish, and a candle-lighting ceremony held at the Martyrs’ Memorial, also known as the Carillon.

In his opening remarks, UST-TS President Br. Sandy Alerta, O.P., stressed that the commemoration aims at “raising awareness on the saintly lives and works of the Church martyrs” who once sanctified the University by their presence and holiness. Buenaventura Garcίa Paredes, O.P., and companions – UST’s purest glory A conference on two subjects started the conference. The ‘Life of a Martyr’ was given by Rev. Hilario Sicat, Jr., O.P., and ‘Vocation’ was given by Rev. Jayson Gonzales, O.P.

In the introductory part of his talk, Rev. Sicat shared that in the 407-year history of UST, it has produced graduates who are exemplary in their respective fields. UST has produced national heroes, national artists, and even Presidents of the country. Interesting enough, among the ranks of the Spanish Prime Ministers, one also hails from UST.

However, behind these lie the real success of the University – its saints and martyrs, who Rev. Sicat proudly labeled as the institution’s purest glory. Collectively, there are 17 Thomasian martyrs: five martyred in Japan, another five in Vietnam, and seven martyrs of the Spanish Civil War. Those martyred in Japan were St. Antonio Gonzáles (Rector), St. Domingo Ibañez de Erquicia (professor), St. Lucas del Espίritu Santo (professor), St. Guillaume de Courtet (professor), and St. Tomás Hioji de San Jacinto (student).

Those martyred in Vietnam were St. Vicente Liem de la Paz (student), St. Domingo Henares
(student), St. José María Dίaz Sanjurjo (student), St. Pedro Almato (student), and St. Jeronimo Hermosilla (student).

The martyrs of the Spanish Civil war were Bl. Buenaventura Garcίa Paredes (professor and
later Master of the Order), Bl. Jesús Villaverde Andres (Secretary-General, Treasurer, Dean of Theology), Bl. Pedro Ibáñez Alonzo (student), Manuel Moreno Martines (student), Maximiano Fendandex Mariñas (student), José María López Carillo (student), and Bl. José María de Manila, O.F.M. Cap (student). Martyrs – the pride of the University “We celebrate today the greatest Thomasians – great, not because of their achievements and
accomplishments, rather, because of their great charity,” said Bishop-Emeritus of Novaliches and UST Theology professor Most Rev. Teodoro C. Bacani Jr., D.D., in his homily during the Eucharistic celebration in honor of the martyrs.

The bishop emphasized that since charity is the greatest of all virtues, and the ultimate act of
charity is to offer one’s life, the Thomasian martyrs are considered as the greatest Thomasians and the pride of the university. They followed in the footsteps of Christ, who was also a Martyr. Aside from the two Cs of martyrdom, Charity and Christ, Bishop Bacani added three more Cs: conviction, courage, and commitment. He also gave examples in the life of modern martyrs like St. Maximilian Kolbe, a priest who offered his life for his fellow prisoner, and St. Oscar Romero, who became a martyr because of his struggle for social justice. He also quoted St. John Paul II in his homily during the beatification of St. Lorenzo Ruiz and companion martyrs in Manila in 1981: “To die for the faith is a call for some, to live the faith is a call to all.” “The martyrs may not have known while they were still here in UST that they will later give their lives for the faith. But when they were given the chance, they surrendered themselves to the will of God. We also do not know what will happen with our future lives.” Bishop Bacani ended his homily with this prayer: “Lord, I do not know what will happen tomorrow. You might call me to die for you. But as of now Lord, this is what I know: I want to live for you.”

As a culmination of the celebration, a candle lighting ceremony was held at the Carillon
highlighted by the singing of the “Te Deum” by the Central Seminary Psalterion and the ringing of the bells in honor of the martyrs. This unfolded the University’s month-long celebration in honor of the martyrs, culminating on November 28, known as “Red Wednesday,” with a Mass in solidarity with persecuted Christians all over the world.