After the death of Archbishop Michael O’Doherty, the first Filipino Archbishop of Manila was installed. Soon after, Most Rev. Gabriel Reyes, established several parishes in August 1951, one of which was the Parish of Sagrada Familia, the first in the Philippines to be erected in honor of the Holy Family. This was on August 11 1951. The new parish was carved out of territories coming from the Sta. Ana Parish and Singalong Parish. The boundaries of the parish in accordance with the Decree were the following: north- Estero de Tripa de Gallina, east- Tejeron St., south- civil boundary of Manila and Makati and west- railroad track along Perlita St.
The first parish priest, Fr. Jose Flores was appointed on September 3 and soon after that celebrating his first mass at the corner of Coral and Dagonoy Sts. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila was able to get the then Manila Mayor Antonio Villegas, to allow the use of the lot, which was part of the original San Andres St., at the corner of Zafiro and San Anres streets to build a temporary parish church (this place is now the site of the present chapel of the Holy Eucharist). It lasted until a new and permanent site was acquired by the RCAM from the Franciscan Fathers of Sta. Ana as per agreement between the two on August 31 1956.
At the corner of Estrada and Chromium streets, a two-storey parish rectory was first constructed. The first floor served as the parish church while a bigger and more spacious round shaped church was being built in the spirit of promoting better participation of the people in the liturgical celebration. Meanwhile a construction of light materials was built beside the big construction to serve as place of worship. Thus the new parish church was constructed through the generous support of the parishioners and benefactors like the First Lady Luz Magsaysay and Mrs. Pura Pajo. It was inaugurated and blessed by Rufino Cardinal Santos on March 29 1969.
During the almost 22 years of tenure, Msgr. Flores facilitated/started the usual Catholic action groups like the Legion of Mary (Oct. 1951), Apostleship of Prayer (1953), Catholic Women’s League (1958), St. John Mary Vianney Association (1963), Mother Butlers Guild (1967), Holy Name Society, Adoracion Nocturna de Filipinas, Christian Family Movement, Cursillo Movement and a couple of Confraternities. For the young people, he established the Young Christian Workers and the Junior Legion of Mary. At this time, the Parish Council was also established to coordinate the different work and activities of these Catholic Action groups, called mandated organizations.
In 1970, Msgr. Flores invited the Shepherdess Sisters to start a nursery and kindergarten classes with Sis. Paola Marave as the community superior. On March 9 1972, SEC formally recognized as the Holy Family Parochial School with him as its director.
The transfer of Msgr. Flores to Holy Family Parish Roxas District, Quezon City ushered the entry of the new parish priest, Rev. Fr. Anastacio Gapac, who was appointed on March 12 1973. The new parish priest launched beautification project of the whole compound of the church and the parochial school. He worked for the DECS recognition of the elementary course from grade I-IV of the school. The shepherdess Sisters left the parochial school in 1977 with a complete elementary and in 1978, the first elementary school graduation took place.
On June 3 1978, the RGS Sisters were given a mission to work in the parish and so they moved their Kaunlaran Multi-purpose Center from Tejeron to the vacant lot in the church property. It offered Christian formation, skills development and alternate medicine. They prepared the establishments of a cooperative.
Fr. Gapac’s almost 10 years of service saw the emergence of Lay Ministers of the Eucharist, the Lord is My Shepherd Charismatic Community, the establishment of the Knights of Columbus Council (1980), the Diamond Jubilee Choir and Zafiro Youth Choir. The Parish Council then became the PPC in the spirit of the Vatican Decree on Lay Apostolate.
Rev. Fr. Melchor David, who was appointed on July 25 1983 as the next parish priest took possession of it on September 1. He introduced devotion to the Divine Mercy which became very popular those days. He continued to strengthen the participation of Lay Ministers, Bibliarasal (1983), Lectors and Commentators Guild (1988), Family Life Apostolate, Youth Charismatic Group and Ladies of the Altar, choirs such as Holy Cross Choir (1986), Holy Trinity Crusaders, Samahan ng Banal na Mag-anak (1987) and Angelicum Choir (1988).
Also, Finance Council, Angelicum Choir II (1995), Domus Mariae I and II Choirs (1994-1995), HFPS Choir, Couples for Christ and Singles for Christ (1999) and Handmaids of the Lord (2000) were established during Fr. David’s stay. Programs like Anti-TB, Anti-Drug abuse seminar, Life in the Spirit Seminar, Pro-life Seminar, Suyuan, Tipanan, Pre-Cana, Youth Encounter and the like were completed. Pastoral Experience and Training were done here. The parish was active in joining campaigns and giving services like the ‘Apostolado sa Kabataan’ and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) during the 1992 elections. Also giving services to the poor members of the church, campaigns by the City of Manila and building medium-rise housing projects on the property of the church in 1995 as a solution to housing problem.
In 1993, church renovation was started. Mass were celebrated at the covered court of KMPC for two years. On November 30 1994, Fr. David became Monsignor. On December 30 of the same year, the parish was re-dedicated by His Eminence Jaime Cardinal Sin.
Msgr. Roberto Espenilla became the temporary parish priest on April 16 2001 and was installed as permanent on May 5. On August 11 2001, during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the parish, Thanksgiving Mass was celebrated with the current parish priest together with his three predecessors. The concelebrated Mass presided by the Auxiliary Bishop of Manila, Most. Rev. Teodoro Buhain Jr., with two bishops born and bred in An Andres Bukid, the Most Rev. Antonio Tobias and Most Rev. Jose Salazar in attendance.
During this time, changes were made in the church structure of PPC with the establishment of Priestly Apostolate, Prophetic Apostolate, Kingly Apostolate and Special Apostolate. Under the guidance of MSGR. Espenilla, moved the Parish Fiesta on the 4th Sunday of January from the previous 3rd Sunday that started in 2002. Cardinal Sin concelebrated the fiesta mass with the blessing of the new image of the Holy Family near the grotto on January 27.
From May 2001 to September 2002, a series of consultation were held at different parts and in 26 barangays that comprise the parish. These led to the formulation of a new Vision-Mission-Goal of the parish and the establishment of new ministries and subsequent restructuring of the PPC.
In 2002 was the beginning of the Children’s Mass on Saturday under the supervision of the Sisters of the Charity of St. Anne and the Legion of Mary.
The historic 4th World Meeting of Families was held in Manila and one of the Language Masses for delegates to the world event was held at the parish church on January 25 2003 with Archbishop Angel Lagdameo of Jaro was the main celebrant.
On August 8 2004, Pondo ng Pinoy of His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales was launched in the parish and introduced the MAGPAS in 2005.
On June 8 2012, Fr. Reynaldo Cruz is the current parish priest installed by Cardinal Tagle.
Parish Priests of Sagrada Familia Parish:
- Jose Flores (1951-1973)
- Anastacio Gapac (1973-1983)
- Melchor David (1983-2001)
- Roberto Espenilla (2001-2012)
Fr. Reynaldo Cruz (2012-present)