BAGUIO CITY (Nov. 18) – In November 1907, nine Catholic missionaries arrived here in the Philippines to evangelize about the charism and vocation to the universal brotherhood of Jesus Christ. It was the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae-CICM) that from then on has been linked to the historical conquest of the church in the country.
The celebration of the CICM missionary presence in the country was slated to “remember and revitalize” their 100 years of service and legacy. The St. Louis University (SLU-Bonifacio main campus) will open a launching program on November 28 to start the yearlong centennial CICM commemoration.
The CICM-SLU centennial committee (Baguio-La Union district) has lined up activities that started today, November 18, with a music festival at the Commission on Culture and the Arts (CCA-SLU) Theater. Meanwhile, on November 27, a musical play “Nine Fathers”, which is about the pioneer batch of missionaries who arrived here in the country, would be staged also at the CCA-SLU Theater.
Other CICM-SLU activities include eucharistic celebration, ceremonial planting of 100 trees in 100 sites, exhibit at the SLU Diego Silang Bldg. lobby, cultural shows, and the project launching of the Northern Luzon Research Journal. The SLU Laboratory Elementary and High Schools have also prepared activities such as poster-making, film viewing, creative group singing, among others to highlight the CICM legacy.
Moreover, other CICM schools and groups in the country would have activities all year round.
The centennial closing would culminate on November 28 next year at the Manila Cathedral to hold a mass for CICM delegates, and a Tribiute Night to recognize the CICM history and talents at the Aliw Theater in Manila.
SLU expands CICM vision
Fr. Jessie Hechanova, the first natural-born Filipino president of SLU, has also disclosed that upon the CICM centennial celebration, SLU has announced its commitment to the CICM continuity of serving communities.
He said, as SLU is a vital part of Baguio City, the SLU administration through meetings of the SLU Alumni Association and the City Planning and Development Committee has laid out plans to expanding the SLU campus to the Bakakeng area here.
“This is our contribution to the decongestion of the central business district. We have a scale model posed at the Diego Silang Bldg. of what is to be the 6.3 hectare-SLU Bakakeng campus for the Liberal Arts and Humanities departments,” Hechanova disclosed.
Hechanova added that the Bakakeng campus buildings would be inspired by Cordillera architecture like the traditional Cordillera houses. Hechanova also said that they plan to power the campus thru solar panels to help conserve the city’s energy; discourage vehicles inside the campus to minimize air pollution; preserve the trees in the Bakakeng area to provide a greener environment; and build a sports complex.
“We would be accepting 1st year enrollees for the SLU Bakakeng campus starting 2008, the following year for the 2nd year students. And hopefully by 2010, the Bakakeng campus would be ready for everyone,” Hechanova added.
The CICM legacy
The CICM was founded by a Belgian diocesan priest Fr. Theophile Verbist on November 28, 1862. With other priests, he evangelized and helped orphans in China.
In 1907, nine CICM missionaries started setting up mission stations in the Northern Luzon, Philippines (Benguet, Lepanto-Balatoc and Nueva Vizcaya). La Trinidad was then their chosen center.
In 1912, they built two churches – Campo Filipino along Naguilian Road and in the center of Baguio along Session Road. One missionary Seraphin Devesse later opened schools at the two churches, which gradually expanded and later became St. Louis Campo, St. Louis Center, St. Louis Lucban and St. Louis College.
To date, some of the present CICM schools here in the country are SLU Baguio City (and its laboratory schools), St. Mary’s University- Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, University of St. Louis- Tuguegarao City, Cagayan, St. Louis Center- San Fernando, La Union, St. Louis School- Mandaue City, Cebu.
Presently, the CICM as an international religious missionary congregation has at least 1,000 priests and brothers all over Asia, Africa, North and South America and Europe. # Pink-Jean Fangon Melegrito for NORDIS