Mindanao’s oldest Catholic church restored

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DAVAO CITY — After two years, the San Salvador del Mundo Church in Caraga, Davao Oriental finally reopened on July 6, after it underwent a two-year restoration.

The San Salvador del Mundo Parish was built in 1883, during the Spanish Era. The newly restored church will formally hold its mass during the commemoration of its 137th parochial fiesta on July 16, 2020.

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines spent P20-million for the restoration while Caraga town put-up P2-million share for sanitarium and baptistry. The sacred place was turned over to the Diocese of Mati last week.

In 2012, the Commission declared San Salvador del Mundo Church as one of the country’s religious heritages and took care of its restoration to preserve the structure.

NHCP Executive Director Restituto Aguilar, in a canned message, was glad that after two years, the church is given the new look with the old structure preserved.

“The restoration was a very meticulous process, 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,” Aguilar emphasized.

As a cultural heritage, “it should be inculcated in the minds of the people the importance of taking good care of a historical structure, considering these are treasures beyond measure,” he added.

The church which sits a step away from the Davao Oriental coastline still stand strong despite the series of natural disaster hit the province.

(L -R). Bishop Abel Apigo, Mayor Alicia Mori and Vice Mayor Melody Ann Benitez during the turn-over and opening of San Salvador del Mundo Church on July 6, 2020.-Photo: PIO/DavOr

In his acceptance message, Bishop Abel Apigo said the restoration of the church been the dream of every parishioner, “The day has finally come for the people of Caraga, for them to come and pray again inside the church. 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”.

The conservation of important landmarks, including buildings, ancient images, and church documents, is always the high priority of the church. And in Davao Oriental, San Salvador del Mundo Church is a concrete example, Apigo said.

“As a matter of fact, the rectory is a strong contender for historical preservation. One can really be amazed how these churches and important landmarks could last for 500 to 1000 years be preserved,” he said.

The church according to Caraga Mayor Alicia Mori is a living testament that clearly shows “there is no separation of the state and the church”, saying the two bodies can work together for the common good, including spiritual nourishment.

According to Vice Mayor Melody Ann Benitez, the restoration is a manifestation that Caraga has been shaped by history, strengthened by time and fueled by strong faith. “Heritage that the church is, it is an important figure in the lives of all devout Catholics in Caraga,” she said.

Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang said he is grateful and happy that the restoration was finally complete and the newly restored church was turned over to the Diocese. “It is proof of a successful spiritual undertaking of the church and the state. There will be more collaborations for the people,” despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan to restore the church was initiated by the former parish priest, Fr. Uldarico Toroba with Fr. Jay Ramos during the time of former NHCP Executive Director Ludivico Badoy.-Newsline with PIO/DavOr

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