THE IHMP ALTAR LADIES SOCIETY : THEN AND NOW
By : Madames Adelaida S. Lorenzana, Josefa Elena S. Cruz and Bella Templonuevo
The Altar Ladies Society (ALS) is the first non-mandated and the oldest organization of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish.
The early morning masses originally said by the Claretian (CFM) Fathers were intended for the sisters of the Congregation of the Missionarias de San Jose which built the Holy Family School at an adjacent lot to Claret School. Upon the request of the residents of U.P. Village and Teachers Village, these masses at the Holy Family School were later opened to the public.
After negotiations between the Claretian Fathers and the Archbishop of Manila, the auditorium of Claret School was converted into a chapel where daily masses would be said temporarily until a parish church could be built. Said auditorium was located at the ground floor of the two-storey building of Claret School.
On April 5, 1969, masses at the Claret Chapel were officially started for the community which would eventually compose the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish.
Realizing the needs of the new chapel, as early as April 7, 1969, a group of twenty ladies headed by Madam Nieves P. Dayrit (Sr Eveng) organized themselves into what was called the Altar Committee. The ladies who joined Madam Nieves Dayrit were Madames Adelaida S. Lorenzana, Ramona Miguel, Corazon Carreon, Patria N. Villa, Flor Garcia, Evangelina Alcid, Virginia Savella, Rosario Magno, Ester Advincula, Purificacion Elumba, Felipa Sabangan, Julieta Belleza, Delfina Cruz, Rosalina Coronel, Virginia Damasco, Femme Doctor, Rebecca Banzon, Lydia Flores, and Honorata Soliman. Father Santiago Gonzalez CMF, the Claret School Director and acting Parish Priest became the Spiritual Director of the Altar Committee.
The primary function of the Altar Committee as the name suggests was to assist the priest celebrant in taking preparation of the altar for masses such as taking care of the altar linens and vestments, keeping clean the sanctuary and beautifying the altar by putting plants and fresh flower arrangements all throughout the year. The flowers they used were the ones they picked from their own gardens. They were instructed on the proper care and washing, folding and handling of the altar linens. These ladies were tremendously inspired to undertake these tasks as a sign of their love for God and their commitment to the parish but most specially for their personal sanctification.
Being the prime movers of the new chapel, the Altar Committee acted as mass collectors and sang with the choir in addition to their altar chores. In an attempt to improve the liturgical services, they recruited boys and girls more or less 12 years old to assist the priest celebrants before, during and after each mass. On some occasions these children helped in passing the collection baskets during the mass. They were called the Altar Boys and Girls.
As days passed, the Altar Committee membership steadily increased so the ladies formally elected their first batch of officers and renamed their group to the ALTAR LADIES SOCIETY.
Elected were as follows :
Founding President – Madam Nieves P. Dayrit
VP for Teachers Village – Ramona Miguel
VP for UP Village – Corazon Carreon
Secretary – Rosario Magno
Treasurer – Purificacion Elumba*
(*later requested to be relieved, she was replaced by Felipa O. Sabangan)
When the membership grew amazingly big, they were divided into groups for effective communication, administration and supervision. Since there were 120 in number, they were regrouped into twelve of ten members each with a leader. Each group take turns doing the altar duty, buying flowers for the altar and hosting the meetings of the organization which is regularly held once in two months.
On September 7, 1969 the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish was formally inaugurated and Fr Jesus Vasquez, CMF, was installed as its first official parish priest. Father Vasquez became the Spiritual Director of the Altar Ladies Society. Since then, the functions of the ALS expanded to include various parish undertakings such as sponsoring retreats on Holy Monday and Holy Thursday for spiritual upliftment not only of its members but also for the parishioners. They took charge of decorating the altar of repose, the Hossana on Palm Sunday and the procession during the Holy Week and parish fiestas.
The ALS got practically involved in almost all church activities for the Lenten and Advent Seasons, the Flores de Maria and fiesta novena masses. They were the ones who introduced at the IHMP the offertory dance in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary on her feast day. The ALS actively participated in all other important church feast days of obligation.
Having a big number as a group, their involvement was considerably sought in almost all of the fundraising projects for the construction of the new church. They joined food sales, raffles, bingo, fiesta fair, Christmas bazaars, and conducted house to house enveloped campaign among IHMP parishioners and benefactors.
On November 11, 1978 when Madam Dianette Nora was the President, the ALS sponsored a musical concert, the proceeds of which were largely donated for the construction of the church and the landscaping of the church grounds. The rest of the proceeds from the concert were used to buy one carroza for the Virgin Mary, flower stands for weddings, the responsorial psalm stand, and the cloth for the “saya” of the carroza.
During the procession on Good Friday, Easter Salubong and parish fiestas, the ALS decorates the carroza of the Virgin Mary. The carroza for the Santo Entierro is taken care of by Bro. Johnny and Sis Julie Rodriguez. The Rodriguez couple donated the Santo Entierro on April 12, 1981, Palm Sunday and the Matre Dolorosa they donated on April 6, 1987. The carroza of the Risen Lord on Easter Salubong is taken care of by the Catholic Womens League.
Although the primary duty of the ALS revolves around the needs of the altar, they also took part in parish social action endeavors such as distributing food and used clothes to fire and typhoon victims in the urban depressed areas of our parish. When there are cultural revival affairs in the parish, the ALS likewise take part zealously.
The ALS sponsors annual rummage sale to help parishioners in the depressed areas avail of second-hand and inexpensive but serviceable goods. This project also supports the needs of the ALS “Outreach Program” the recipient of which are the patients of the free medical and dental clinics of our parish.
On different occasions in the past, the ALS went on pilgrimage to our Lady of Mt Carmel Shrine in Lipa City, Our Lady of Peace Shrine in Edsa, and the church in Calamba, Laguna.
Never remiss in works of charity, the ALS went to Elsie Gatche’s Village in Alabang. They visited the disadvantaged residents thereat and distributed clothes and canned biscuits.
On April 17, 1994 the ALS celebrated its 25th anniversary at the Quezon Hall, Sulu Hotel, QC. The affair was very successful and almost all the past presidents were present.
Consonant with the Philippine Centennial Year Celebration in 1998, our parish put up a cultural show which was enthusiastically attended by some officers and members of the ALS who were glowingly dressed in antique Filipina costumes.
From 1996 to 2002, Madam Josefa Elena “Ena” S. Cruz was the ALS president. During her incumbency, the white dress of any cut was adopted as the official uniform of the ALS. The Inspirational Talk of the Spiritual Director and the Spiritual Reading became a regular part of the meeting agenda. The ALS co-sponsored annual recollections for the spiritual advancement of the parishioners. Through her initiative, the ALS banner was donated by the family of Mrs Belen Medina of UP Village who had it made by Tan-Gatue, the famous flag maker.
When Father Santiago Gonzalez CMF, arrived from Spain, he was invited as Special Guest of the ALS in their October 26, 1997 meeting. Father Gonzalez reminded the ladies to maintain the number of groups of the ALS because it represents the twelve disciples of Christ and the columns of Jesursalem.
Being an organization under the Worship Committee of the IHMP, in 1999 and thereafter, the ALS was designated to dress the altar during the Easter Vigil to usher in a new Liturgical Season.
The ALS celebrated its 30th anniversary at the Claret School AV Room on April 19, 1999 after a thanksgiving mass. A pictorial exhibit was opened to inform those present what the ALS has accomplished through the years.
To augment the decreasing ALS funds for buying fresh flowers for the altar, when Madam Minerva Villasanta took over as the president in 2002, through her proposal, a continuing newspaper fund-drive was started, ALS members donate old newspapers, magazines, and many others which are collected regularly by Bella Templonuevo to boost up collection for fresh flower arrangements for the altar.
Last April 17, 2003 the ALS celebrated its 35th anniversary at the Bulwagang Claret after a thanksgiving mass. Aside from the officers and members of the ALS, friends and benefactors were also present.
In keeping with the Christmas Spirit of gift-giving, during the incumbency of Madam M. Villasanta, the ALS distributed grocery bags containing sugar, rice, milk, noodles, biscuits and candies to the patients of the free medical clinic of the IHMP. This was done after the ALS meeting last December 2002. In addition, the children/patients were treated to free frozen delight goodies courtesy of Nestle Philippines upon the solicitation of Madam Virginia Savella.
Several members of the ALS have already joined their Creator and are now in the great beyond. The number of ALS membership has been greatly affected and has considerably dropped. It is almost four decades that his organization was founded, yet the interest of these ladies in looking after the needs of the altar has not waned. Inspite of their being members of the Senior Citizens group and other parish organizations, they keep up with their commitment to God and patiently attend to their assignments from time to time.
Relative to the purpose of the ALS “Outreach Program” in 2006 under the presidency of Madam Rosabella Templonuevo, upon her suggestion, the ALS started an ongoing Christmas project in which toys and snacks will be distributed to indigent children/patients of the IHMP free medical clinic every 2nd Sunday of December during which the ALS holds its last meeting for the year. The ALS members agreed to donate toys while the organization will provide the snacks and noodles.
The Presidents of the ALTAR LADIES SOCIETY who have unwaveringly supported the objectives of the organization in the past and at present are the following :
1969-1974 Nieves P. Dayrit (Founding President)
1974-1978 Adelaida S. Lorenzana
1978-1980 Dianette Nora
1980-1982 Frances Poe
1982-1984 + Rebecca Banzon
1984-1988 Adoracion Aranez
1988-1992 + Manuela Buensuceso
1992-1994 + Magdalena Cantoria
1994-1996 + Prima Mendoza
1996-2002 + Josefa Elena S. Cruz
2002-2006 Minerva Villasanta
2006-Present Rosabella Templonuevo
ALS OFFICERS FOR 2006
President Rosabella Templonevo
Vice President Teofista Vivar
Secretary Purificacion Adorable
Asst Secretary Angelina Fajardo
Auditor Laura Madamba
P.R.O. Ester Advincula
Spiritual Director : Fr Desiderio G. Martin, CMF (IHMP Parochial Vicar)
AT PRESENT : ALS OFFICERS FOR 2016
Board of Directors/Past Presidents :
ALS Officers :
President Bella Templonuevo
Secretary Minda Monzon
Asst Secretary Gloria Dolatre
Treasurer Binay Agodon
Asst Treasurer Fely Porca
Auditor Laura Madamba
PRO Ester Advincula
Spiritual Director : Rev Fr Angelito Ancla, CMF (IHMP Parish Priest)