Last April 5, former Bishop of Kabankalan Patricio Buzon blessed the new church of La Castellana whose patron saint is St. Vincent Ferrer. The new church is sixth of the edifices that were constructed since the Royal Decree of Dec. 12, 1894 created a mission Church here under the patronage of St. Vincent. It was the first mission in Negros under his patronage.
The new church is huge, high ceiling, airy, spacious and well lighted with stained glass from natural source – the sun.Several things are yet to be in place like new pews, doors and the confessionals. But it is already functional. More and new pews to suit the magnificence of the new edifice will soon be in place.
The new church rose from the fifth structure constructed by the Columbans fathers. The new church, worthy of being a cathedral because of its size and beauty, is the project of Fr. Ariel D. Gregorio, the parish priest to commemorate the 100 th year of the elevation of the mission church into a parish in 1916.
Coincidentally, the parish priest in 1916 was Fr. Gregorio Asin, OAR who nurtured the church from 1912 when he first came as the missionary until it became a parish.
We must credit to Fr. Ariel the persuasiveness that raised the millions needed to build this beautiful and huge temple of the Lord and the generosity of the faithful of La Castellana. It is indeed enormous comparatively for the size of the town with other towns, cities and parishes. It is the largest church in the Kabankalan Diocese to date since the Cathedral of diocese has not been completed yet.
This church is also historic because its blessing fell just before the celebration of the centenary of La Castellana on Dec. 19, 2018. The Executive Order elevating the town from being a barrio of Pontevedra took effect on Jan. 1, 1919.
There is another historic moment. Last June 30, Most Reverend Patricio Buzon, although already appointed Bishop of Bacolod to succeed retired Bishop Vicente M. Navarra, presided over the liturgical dedication of the La Castellana church as the Kabankalan Diocesan shrine of St. Vincent Ferrer. Last Dec. 12, 2015 Bishop Buzon also presided over the dedication of the St. Vicent Shrine in Talisay City and the installation of the relics of the saint in the shrine. This relic is displayed inside a reliquary within the shrine chapel.
There was no need to install the relics of St. Vincent in La Castellana. I was unaware that the relic of the saint had been there since 2004. I saw theglass box where it is displayed and on it is the certification issued by the Vatican on May 2, 2004 testifying to the authenticity of the relic, a bone of the saint. It is almost of the same size as that in Talisay. Unlike in Talisay the relic in La Castellana is displayed for public blessings only on its feast day.
We credit to the now retired but still spritely Fr. Jose Maria Cadungon for negotiating with a friend in the Vatican to get this relic. It is not easy as anyone who had tried to secure a relic will testify. Fr. Joe is my classmate in elementary grades in La Castellana.
Fr. Ariel told me that starting the first Friday of August (August 5, 2016)there will be a Healing Mass and the traditional palapak of St. Vincent. Moreover the relic will be opened for the faithful. Heretofore, this Mass is held only during the patronal fiesta on April 5.Now it will be celebrated every first Fridayat 10 in the morning. Eventually the first Friday Healing Mass of St Vincent in La Castellana will grow and more Masses will be celebrated.
The benefits of the Healing Mass every First Friday are clear. In Talisay and in Vito thousands of devotees flock to their churches on this day. Others wanted to come but for the distance and the cost. With La Castellana offering this Mass, other devotees will be encouraged to come and hopefully attract others to join as well. Instead of drawing devotees from Talisay and Vito, there will be increment of devotees and bring spiritual benefits to more people. Now there is a St. Vincent shrine in the north, center and south of the province.
The influx to La Castellana will take some time, after all this devotion took over a hundred years to grow.*
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