The new foundation in Iloilo had been encouraged for many years by Fr. Murray (General) and the Irish Provincials. On January 23,1928 at the invitation of Bishop McCloskey, six Redemptorist came to Jaro, Iloilo – Fr. Raymund Cleere (Superior), Fr. Joseph Wright, Fr. Joseph O ‘ Gorman, Fr. Patrick O ‘ Connell, Bros. Jarlath and Charles. The Fathers came from Opon and the Brothers from Malate. Fr. Cleere arrived first and stayed at the bishop’s house. The first Mass was celebrated in the original convento on January 23. Fr. John Fitzgerald, the Provincial of Ireland, left on January 25.
They first resided at No. 9 Calle E. Lopez, Jaro. Within four months missions were being given in Dumangas (June), Lublub (November), Pototan in Panay and in Negros in Sarabia, Talisay, Cadiz, Victorias. In 1931 (November 9) the present monastery was completed and in 1941 (January 23) the church was completed and blessed by Bishop McCloskey.
After the war the Redemptorists committed themselves to recruiting vocations and for this St. Clement’s College was built as a seminary and was ready for the school year 1949 – 50. It was in St. Clement’s church that the first Perpetual Novena of Our Mother of Perpetual Help was celebrated Monday, May 6, 1946.
ILO-ILO PARISH CHURCH
The Redemptorist came to Jaro on January 23, 1928. For more than ten years there was question of a foundation in Jaro. Bishop Denis O’Dougherty, later Cardinal of Philadelphia, approached the Fathers in Cebu to start a house in his diocese. Bishop James McCloskey formally invited the Fathers to come to Jaro. Both bishops were aware of the mission work of the Redemptorist in Cebu because the Redemptorist had already given missions in Oriental Negros, then part of the Archdiocese of Jaro. Bishop McCloskey and the Vice-Provincial Superior, Rev. W. Byrne, simultaneously wrote to the Father General in Rome asking him to accept the Jaro foundation. The cable of acceptance arrived on October 17, 1927. Bishop McCloskey secured a house, no.9, Calle E. Lopez, Jaro and generously spent on its repair. Fr. John Fitzgerald, the Irish Provincial Superior appointed the following to Jaro: Frs. Raymund Cleere (superior), Joe Wright, Patrick O’Connel, Joe O’Gorman, Bros. Jarlath and Charles.
On January 23, 1928 the fathers occupied the house and offered mass there the same day. The altar was a gift from Bishop McCloskey. It was the altar used in the first convent of Carmelite sisters in the Philippines, in Molo.
From the beginning, the fathers, at the invitation of Msgr. Luis Capalla, used to help out in the cathedral. After one month they began to hear confessions in Ilonggo, English and Spanish.
Msgr. Gabriel Reyes, Vicar General and Parish Priest of Sta. Barbara and Msgr. C. Brennan, Secretary to the Bishop, received the missionaries at the Palacio and gave them every possible assistance. The Padres Paules were kindness itself, supplying altar wine and other items for the house. The Superioress of St. Paul’s hospital and her Sisters were real Angel Guardians. The Superioress donated tables, chairs, kitchen utensils and an alcohol stove. The Mill Hill Fathers were more than kind to us. The Superior, Fr. Mansfield, worked for us as if it were themselves.
When the fathers arrived in Jaro in 1928, parochial missions were the long established thrust of the Redemptorists. Missions had been preached in all the towns of Cebu, Bohol, Leyte, Mindanao and Oriental Negros. The Jaro community got down to acquiring a fluency in Ilongo. The Parish Priest of Oton recommended a good teacher of Ilongo, Mr. Benjamin Pomperada. The fathers spent the first four months studying the language.
Fr. Vicente Militar invited the Redemptorists to give their first mission in his parish, Dumangas, June 1928. Fr. Vicente was pleases with the work of the missioners. He arranged for another mission in Lublub on the following November. The net mission was in Pototan. Despite the heavyrains and the planting of rice, many people attended the mission.
On August 31, Fr. Cleere O’ Connel and Wright left for missions in Negros. They spent three months there without returning home. The first missions in Negros were given in Saravia, Silay and Talisay. Thus began fifty years of missions in Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Capiz, Aklan and Antique.
During these early years in Jaro the fathers gave retreats to priest, sisters and students. They also choose the La Paz site as a permanent one for the new foundation in the diocese of Jaro.
All during the years 1930 – 1940 the number of missions increased, until 1941 when the war broke out and put an end to this apostolate.
The war Years
The mission in Mambusao was interrupted after nine days, on December 8th. The news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and Manila was broadcast all over the Philippines. War had broken out and the Philippines was involved. On December 4th Jose Ma. Cuenco was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Jaro. On December 9 the Corregidor struck a mine while cut a drift after the severe earthquake. Many students, people and two Congressman from Panay lost their lives in this fatal sinking.
The realities of war were brought home to the Fathers on December 18. The Japanese planes began dropping bombs on Iloilo City; the oil installations on the docks and the airfield near Fort San Pedro were severely damaged. There were many casualties. Frs. Nulty, Corr and O’Connor attended to the victims.
The Japanese invaded Panay on April 6, 1942.
St. Clements Monastery
The Contract for the construction of the new permanent monastery, St. Clements, was signed on January 15, 1931. The building was blessed by Bishop McCloskey. St. Clement was selected as the patron of the Redemptorists in La Paz because of his influence over students.
The fathers continued the diocesan apostolate for the students of the Provincial High School and Normal College (now West Visayas State University). They held a regular masses schedule for the people and the Confraternity of the Holy Family was established as a weekly service for the students and other men of the area. The confraternity survived for over thirty years and had an average weekly attendance of 250 men.
The number of people increased steadily over the years and the Catholic Truth Hall was no longer adequate to serve their needs so, it was decided to build a permanent church. St. Clements church was inaugurated on February 23, 1941 by Bishop McCloskey. As special sermon was preached by Archbishop Reyes was offered for the deceased benefactors of the Redemptorists in Iloilo.
St. Clements College
Immediately after the war it was decided that a first step in the training of Filipino vocations was to establish a Minor Seminary. In October 1946 the superiors agreed to this proposal and construction begun. Fr. John Ryan was Vice-Provincial at the time.
The College was completed for the school year 1949-1950 and Fr. Patrick Nulty became its first Director. From the very beginning, the school had a name for discipline, high academic standard and basketball.
St. Clements College has supplied the nucleus of our Filipino Vice-Provincial/ Province. The majority of our Filipino Fathers studied for some time in the College: Msgr. Ramon Fruto, Bishop IreneoAmantillo, WilliieJesena, FilomenoSuico, EmerardoManingo, Gerry Loarca, Tommie Toncinco and the late Fernando Yusingco, Luis Hechanova, and Rudy Romano.
The Perpetual Novena
After the war, the people began to attend mass again in great numbers. As a new comer to St. Clements I heard Fr. Nulty preach, “Forget and forgive the atrocities of the Japanese and build a new Philippines”. There was a great hope and spirit among the people. Manuel Roxas won the election on a complete independent platform. The American flag was replaced by the Filipino flag on July 4, 1946. It was in this spirit of freedom that the Perpetual Novena began in St. Clements on the first week of May 1946. It was from St.Clements that the Novena extended to Baclaran and to so many other churches throughout the Philippines.
St. Clements Perpetual Help Parish
Time moves on. The old order changes and God fulfills himself in many ways. On Easter Sunday 1967 St. Clements became the new Perpetual Help Parish. In his inauguration address on this occasion, Archbishop Quencosaid : “ The more parishes in the diocese, the less chance of error among the people; the supreme law is the salvation of souls. This responsibility was brought home to me very clearly during the Second Vatican Council.
St. Clements Retreat House
Another comparatively new apostolate at St. Clements is the enclosed retreat movement. The first enclosed retreat was held in the convent on December 7, 1963.the new Retreat House was completed in 1967.