By Kendrick Ivan B. Panganiban
July 4, 2021
Bishop Francisco de Leon of Antipolo has declared a 17th-century church dedicated to Jesus’ foster father as a diocesan shrine.
The decree, dated June 30, was announced during Sunday morning Mass at the St. Joseph Parish Church in Rizal province’s Baras town.
Its parish priest Fr. Rodney Cruz said that the church of Baras is one of the most well-kept heritage churches in the province.
It has also been a site of pilgrimage, according to him, especially as the Church currently celebrates the Year of St. Joseph.
Cruz said the church’s new status is “truly a blessing” for the parish “as we also celebrate 100 years of Baras’ independence as a town after many years of incorporation and temporary division from its neighboring towns Morong and Tanay since the Spanish era”.
According to historical records, the fulfillment of the petition for Baras’ declaration as an independent town was through the people’s ardent devotion to St. Joseph, known locally as “San José de Baras”.
Fr. Cruz also said that Baras has been the oldest Josephian parish in the Southern Tagalog mainland since its foundation in 1686.
The parish, he added, “has continued to be a community wherein many traditions abound, making it a unique place of prayer with celebrations in honor of St. Joseph”.
The church in Baras is the third Josephian parish to be elevated to diocesan shrine status this year.
On May 1, the Cathedral Parish of St. Joseph the Worker in Tagbilaran City and the Parish of St. Joseph in Navotas City were both declared diocesan shrines.
At present, there are eight more shrines dedicated to St. Joseph in the Philippines. They are the National Shrine of St. Joseph in Mandaue City, and the diocesan shrines in Quezon City, Las Piñas City, Balanga City, San Jose town in Batangas, Polillo town in Quezon, San Jose town in Camarines Sur, and Butuan City.
The church in Baras is the ninth diocesan shrine in the Antipolo diocese after the Our Lady of Light and St. Arnold Janssen, both in Cainta; St. Therese of the Child Jesus in Antipolo; St. Mary Magdalene in Pililla; Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary in Cardona; Our Lady of the Abandoned; St. Paul of the Cross in Marikina City; and Our Lady of Aranzazu in San Mateo.
The diocese also has a national shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage.