History of the National Shrine of St. Padre Pio

The Parish of St. Padre Pio in San Pedro, Sto. Tomas, Batangas was initially established at the chapel of Barangay San Pedro on June 28, 2003 by His Eminence, Gaudencio Cardinal B. Rosales, D.D. (Archbishop Emeritus of Manila), then Archbishop of Lipa. He installed Rev. Fr. Dale Anthony Q. Barretto-Ko as its first Parish Priest. Formerly part of the Parish of St. Thomas Aquinas where Rev. Fr. Ricardo Echague was then its Parish Priest, this new parish of St. Padre Pio ministers to the barangays of Sta. Ana, San Agustin, Sta. Elena, San Felix, San Isidro Norte, San Isidro Sur, San Jose, San Juan, San Pablo and San Pedro

On November 7, 2005, Mr. Ernesto and Mrs. Adelaida Gonzaga from Barangay San Pedro, donated their 1.6 - hectare land (where the main Church, the Belfry, St. John Marie Vianney Chapel of Reconciliation, the Rectory, and the Parish Office and Store now stand) to the Archdiocese of Lipa to be the site of the new Parish church and Shrine. In 2006, Dr. Isabel Malvar-Villegas donated a parcel of land for perpetual use to provide the right of way to this site from the barangay road.

On December 23, 2008, His Excellency Ramon C. Arguelles, DD, Archbishop of Lipa, declared the existing church structure, made from local materials like bamboo and nipa, at this new site within Barangay San Pedro, as the Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. After Fr. Barretto Ko’s ministry here, Rev. Fr. Joselin C. Gonda (Fr. Jojo) was appointed as the next Parish Priest and Shrine Rector on September 27, 2009. Since then, the construction of the main church, the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, the Chapel of the Saints, the Belfry, the Parish Rectory, the Sanctuary of the True Cross of Christ, the St. John Marie Vianney Chapel of Reconciliation and other structures were built over the past five years. Arch. Julius Pio A. Raña, Engr. Jaime F. Cancio, Engr. Wilfredo E. Carpio, and the generosity of the faithful helped Fr. Gonda turn his ideas into structures. Completion of the Shrine in terms of basic structures needed to evangelize and accommodate pilgrims took place in only six years. This was a result of divine providence through St. Padre Pio’s charism combined with the Rector’s creativity and effective leadership.  

Fr. Gonda was able to lead the parishioners, devotees, and pilgrims in building seven structures and acquire another four hectares of land in a relatively very short period of time through meaning attribution. Such principle enabled the faithful to understand how and why it is important to be generous to the Church. Through effective evangelization and hard work, he was able to develop a sense of ownership of the Shrine among the parishioners, devotees, and pilgrims. 

The declaration of the Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Padre Pio in San Pedro, Sto. Tomas, Batangas as a National Shrine is a manifestation of God’s love and faithfulness through St. Padre Pio’s intercession. On July 11, 2015, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) voted unanimously to declare this Shrine as National Shrine of St. Padre Pio. This is the first shrine to be declared as a national shrine in the Archdiocese of Lipa, in the whole province of Batangas. The Solemn Declaration was held on September 14, 2015. The Concelebrated Mass was led by the CBCP President, His Excellency Socrates Villegas, D.D., Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan. 

Author: Evelyn V. Gonzaga, 2015




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