Retired Resident Bishop
Greenmeadows Ave. Quezon City, Philippines
Mobile (text only): 0917-6282573
Seat reservations: churchseatbooking.com
CTK: Becoming God’s Story
The Early Years
Christ the King Parish started as a small chapel, along with the Saint Joseph the Worker Convent, within White Plains Village in the 1970s, and was served by priests from the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish (OLPH) in Cubao, and later from the Our Lady of Miraculous Medal Parish in Project 4. The community grew and expressed a desire to become a parish. On November 25, 1979, Christ the King Parish was established as part of the Diocese of Manila and under the Vicariate of Our Lady of Perpetual Help during a Mass celebrated by Jaime Cardinal Lachica Sin (1928-2005). The new parish serves the communities of Bagumbayan, Corinthian Gardens, Greenmeadows, Libis, Saint Ignatius, and White Plains.
This new parish was officially called ‘Christ the King Parish Greenmeadows’ and was placed under the Vicariate of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH). The White Plains chapel served as the temporary parish convent and Fr. Victorio Antonio Lanuevo was installed as the new parish priest. The Apostleship of Prayer (AP) was the first mandated organization of the parish. However, soon the White Plains chapel proved too small to take all the residents of these growing communities, and a new church had to be built. It was under Fr. Lanuevo’s administration that the plan to build a new parish church was started.
A New Place of Worship
It was in early 1980 when then Metro Manila Commission Vice-Governor Ismael Mathay Jr., (1932-2013) and Bureau of Internal Revenue director Mauro G. Calaguio, Sr. helped Fr. Lanuevo in convincing Paquito Ortigas to donate the 7,225 square meter lot in Greenmeadows for the new church. The turnover ceremony of the Greenmeadows lot was held during a Mass by Elefantaria Bishop Leonardo Zamora Legaspi (1935-2014), Muteci Bishop Bienvenido Mercado Lopez (1924-1995), and future-Manila Archbishop Teodoro Javier Buhain, Jr. (born 1937). A construction committee was formed and Architect Angel Abad agreed to design the church, free of charge. The official groundbreaking was held on April 27, 1980, in a mass presided by Cardinal Sin together with Fr. Tony Lanuevo.
The Construction Committee, led by Charlie Rufino, included parishioner Architect Angel Abad as pro bono lead designer.
In May 1982, Fr. Tony Lanuevo was reassigned. Msgr. Antonio Tobias took over as parish priest but stayed for less than a year when he was named Auxiliary Bishop of Zamboanga. On February 15, 1983, Cardinal Sin installed Msgr. Jaime T. Mora as CTK’s new parish priest. The construction of the church proceeded with the generous contributions of parish residents, their friends, and business associates. Several fundraising projects were undertaken by the Construction Committee including movie premieres and car raffles, in addition to funds raised from sponsorships of Novena Masses and the Misa de Gallo by the parishioners. Funds were still not enough to finish the church so Msgr. Mora solicited individual benefactors for each of the needed structures in the church, like the main altar table, each of the 14 stations of the cross, the Our Lady of Perpetual Help frame on a side altar, the statue of Christ the King in the main church, the carillon bells and the air-conditioners of the main church. To raise additional funds, Msgr. Mora built a crypt starting with 500 units each at P5, 000 per unit. Sales started slow but picked up in the mid-eighties when cremation soon became a more common way of burying the dead. Msgr. Mora then built phase 2 of the crypt with 1,000 units, sold at P25, 000 each, and followed by Phase 3 with another 1,000 units at P50, 000 per unit.
The funerary services of the parish have continued to expand over the years, with the first crypt at the base of the church, the main columbarium attached to the northwest with three mortuary chapels, and a new open-air cinerarium that totals 2,500 vaults.
The church was finally completed on June 30, 1988, and consecrated by Jaime Cardinal Sin on October 30, 1988. The curving dome of the church rises at 24.3 meters at its highest point, and slopes to 76.2 meters at its lowest points.
Growth of Ministries
With the completion of the parish church, came the mushrooming of new ministries and organizations to make the community more vibrant.
The very first Parish Renewal Experience (PREx) was held in March 1990.
Msgr. Mora saw the need for more space for the formation and spiritual growth of the parish so plans were drawn up for a parish center. The cornerstone of the Parish Formation Center was laid on July 2, 1995, and finished and blessed on June 22, 1996. Soon after, the Perpetual Adoration Chapel was built. Then Msgr. Mora added the mortuary consisting of two chapels then extended it to add the third chapel.
Ministries were beginning to take root. CTK Youth Ministry held its first event in conjunction with the World Youth Day held in Manila in January 1995 with Pope John Paul II celebrating.
The Family Life Ministry also launched its First Marriage Vocation Program in January 1996.
The Parish Formation Center was finished and blessed in June 1996.
At the start, Christ the King Parish was quite modest in its interiors, following the simple geometric lines of the architecture. At the altar, there was a 1.22 meter tall (4 feet) statue of Christus Rēx (Christ the King), seated on the Throne of Heaven. In his left hand, Christ holds a scepter as a symbol of his divine role as the “King of Kings”.
In addition, the original centerpiece statue behind the altar, a sitting Christ the King, had been deemed too small compared to the size of the church so it was replaced it with the current standing Christ the King with arms opened wide. However, some parishioners felt that the icon was too small, especially against the high concrete ceiling, and it was replaced by a larger sculpture in 1996. The old icon of Christus Rēx was transferred to the Pastoral Center.
In 1996, a new six-meter statue of the Christus Rēx, by the father and son team of Manuel Reyes Casal (1925) and Ronald Poblete Casal (born 1951), was installed at the altar of the parish, along with a wooden retablo (altarpiece) that is a cross between the modernist clean geometric lines and the ornate neoclassic accents, embodied by the acanthus leaves on the Greek Corinthian-style capitals on top of the retablo’s columns. Above the head of Christ is the Christogram of JHS, which is both an abbreviation of the name Jesus and the Greek phrase of ΙΗΣΟΥΣ ΗΜΕΤΕΡΟΣ ΣΩΤΗΡ (Iēsous Hēmeteros Sōtēr) or “Jesus our Savior”. Surrounding the Christogram is the crown of thorns and a sunburst with rays that represented the nails that were used to crucify Jesus. At the very top of the retablo is the image of the pineapple, which signifies a welcoming into the church, and is further emphasized by the outstretched arms of the Christus Rēx. In 1997, the pipe organ was installed at the right transept of the church, with a carved wooden facsimile of the miraculous 1499 image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, from the Keras Kardiotissas Monastery, in Greece; and now housed at the Chiesa di Sant’Alfonso di Liguori all’Esquilino in Rome.
The Perpetual Adoration Chapel was built in 1997 on the left side of the Main Church in January. Also designed by Arch. Abad, the chapel follows his minimalist aesthetic, with the Eucharist placed within a floating monstrance of an eight-starred sunburst. During the 2018 renovation, the doors of the chapel were adorned with stained-glass windows of an abstract depiction of chotki / vervitsa prayer rope, with thirty-three knots representing the age of Jesus.
In August of the same year, the Mortuary was built, consisting of two chapels. A third chapel was added four months later. The pipe organ was installed in December 1997.
The next structure that was added to the Christ the King Parish compound was the Parish Formation Center at the east side of the church, which was completed on the 22nd of June 1996. The center is home to the parish office, reception hall, and function rooms named after the Four Evangelists. The bridge that links the church with the center was constructed in 2015. These new additions to the parish were made during the term of Msgr. Jaime T. Mora, who oversaw the fundraising for the construction of the church, with his appointment as parish priest in 1983, to his retirement in 2004. Msgr. Mora also saw the construction of the parish rectory at the northeastern side of the church.
One of the last developments during Msgr. Mora’s term was the construction of the Lingap Center (Tagalog for “care”) in 2000, which is a daycare facility for senior citizens and managed by the Ladies of Charity. This area used to be quarters of then parish priest now Bishop Antonio Tobias. The Ladies of Charity is part of the Association Internationales des Charites, which was founded by the French saint Vincent de Moras de Paul (1581-1660) in 1617, and the Ladies of Charity-AIC Philippines was established in 1950. The Ladies of Charity at the Christ the King Parish was organized in 1982, and now manages the Lingap Center for the elderly, raises funds for scholarships, conducts feeding programs for elementary students, and holds livelihood training seminars all for the poorer residents of Libis.
Reaching Out Beyond Its Borders
Aware and grateful for its abundant blessings of time, talent and treasure, the community started to grow in its evangelizing mission beyond its parish boundaries.
In 2001, SILBI LIBIS was launched to coordinate parish-wide efforts to serve the poor in the community. The Knights of Columbus was assigned to the Christmas tree fundraising project to usher in the Christmas season.
Msgr. Mora also commissioned 22 ministers to form the Healing Ministry. In March, Msgr. Mora celebrated his Golden Sacerdotal Jubilee at the Main Church together with Bp. Raul Martirez, Bp. Gabriel Reyes, Bp. Soc Villegas, Archbishop Tito Yllana, and Archbishop Carmelo Morales.
On August 28, 2003, the Archdiocese of Manila was split to establish five new dioceses – Caloocan, Novaliches, Cubao, Pasig, and Paranaque. His Eminence, Most Rev. Honesto F. Ongtioco DD, was installed as the new bishop of the Diocese of Cubao, in the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio Antonio Franco and Manila Archbishop Jaime L. Cardinal Sin. Msgr. Mora retired in August 2004 after turning 75 years old. Bishop Ongtioco took over for one and a half years as acting parish priest while planning the reshuffle of the clergy of the Cubao diocese. Bishop Ongtioco started the Stewardship as a Way of Life program in the parish during his two-year term, in 2005.
After the retirement of Msgr. Mora, there would be a slight shift in developments in church for the next two years, with Bishop Honesto Flores Ongtioco (born 1948) acting as the temporary parish priest until 2005.
Stewardship as a Way of Life
In September 2005, Bp. Ongtioco launched CTK as a Stewardship Parish with the motto and mandate “Stewardship as a Way of Life”. It instilled upon the parish community the mindset that its veritable chest of time, talent, and treasure should be utilized beyond its immediate environs to serve a larger community.
Msgr. Daniel Sta. Maria (1943-2021) was installed in April 2006 as the 5th parish priest of CTK Parish Greenmeadows. Msgr. Sta. Maria quickly went to work expanding and rehabilitating the facilities of the church, such as the construction of church extensions, covered walkways, and a sound-proof “cry room” for parishioners with children. The first major addition that Msgr. Sta. Maria oversaw was the construction of a permanent baptistery at the northeast corner of the ground floor of the church. Aside from granite baptismal font with checkered tiling, the main feature of the baptistery is the painting of the Baptism of Jesus by John at the River Jordan (Matthew 3:13–17 and Mark 1:9–11) by the artist Rafael del Casal.
Other facilities improvement projects mounted by Msgr. Dan Sta. Maria during his first three-year term, include: the St. Therese garden extension in 2006, that allowed a spillover area for the function rooms; the three-fold increase in parish office space in 2006; replacement of the sound system in 2007; the weekend market space in 2007; the new baptistery with the Rafael del Casal oil painting in 2007; expansion of parking area and installation of covered walkways in 2008; and left and right-wing church extensions in 2009.
St. Ignatius Village became the pilot area for the Basic Ecclesial Communities in 2009. Buklod ng Panginoon initiated the outreach. In June, Robbie Sian of White Plains and Francis Alvarez of Greenmeadows were ordained as priests of the Society of Jesus. Herbie Santos, coordinator of the Youth Ministry joined the San Jose Seminary. Extensions to the Main Church including a Cry Room for infants and toddlers were constructed.
After 3 years of fundraising and building, the CTK Gawad Kalinga Village in Zabarte, Novaliches was completed in November. Spearheaded by parishioners and CTK Couples for Christ, the project provided housing for families displaced by the Libis flyover construction.
In July 2010, St. Pedro Poveda College became a part of the Diocese of Cubao. Poveda Acolytes Ministry and Music Ministries are invited to join CTK youth masses.
Parish Systems and Spiritual Growth
After Msgr. Santa Maria completed his term in 2012, Fr. Jose “Bong” Sanmillan Tupino III was installed on February 26, 2012, and added more improvements to the church. Fr. Bong instituted the position of Village Coordinators to boost the BEC effort.
The first major addition to the parish was the installation of a 3.66 meter (12 feet) tall statue of Christus Rēx at the Saint Thérèse Garden, right at the entrance of the church. Created by Kapampangan sculptor, Willy Layug, this Christus Rēx presents Jesus standing on top of the world, with his left hand holding a scepter with a cross that represents both his divine rule and sacrifice. The Christus Rēx has the right hand extended in blessing visitors, in the Chironomiatic gesture of the open “palm of righteousness”. On his head, Jesus wears a crown with a cross that represents the Church, with eight fleurs-de-lis of the Holy Trinity that symbolizes the eight beatitudes. The eight-pointed crown also is also a representation of the Star of Redemption. This image was installed in the garden on December 8, 2014.
Willy Layug also sculpted the image of the Immaculate Conception, which is sometimes on display within the soundproof Cry Room and at the main altar during Marian feasts.
During his first term, Fr. Bong focused on community participation and involvement, making extensive use of the village parishioners by assigning those specific duties and responsibilities during Novena Masses, Flores de Mayo, Lenten Season, and October Rosary Month. He instituted ‘Dinners with My Parish Priest’, where village coordinators would gather several tables of village parishioners each night to chat and dine with him. Major infrastructure renovations and repairs were undertaken – roofing, electrical, sound system replacement, and repainting of the Main Church; repainting, replacement of sacristy, altar, and ambo, installation of the crucifix and icons of Mary & Joseph, and the image of Divine Mercy; construction of the bridge to connect the Main Church with the Social Hall; and repainting of the parish convent and Parish Formation Center. He also instituted the Jubilee of Mercy Formation Series of talks as well as the Thursday Holy Hour in honor of the Divine Mercy. In his second term that began in 2015, Fr. Tupino formalized the Parish Pastoral Council processes, including the appointment of PPC officers and members with three year-terms that started on the second year of the parish priest’s term and staying in place for a year after the new parish priest’s appointment, the rationale being to give the new parish priest a full year to get to know the PPC and parishioners before needing to form a new PPC team.
The parish’s mission and vision were formulated by the Parish Pastoral Council in 2015.
The next major development was the replacement of the tabernacle at the left transept in 2016. The original tabernacle was a rectangular “vault” with a golden ray emanating from the sides, while above it is an image of the Holy Spirit as a white dove. The new tabernacle was designed by Jessie Pingol, with the Christogram of JHS inscribed on the door, and twelve rays coming from the sides. The twelve rays represent the apostles and tribes of Israel, while the four main rays are for the Cross of Christ. Above the tabernacle is a censer for burning incense.
Herbert Palma Santos of Greenmeadows was ordained a priest in February 2016. May of that same year, the parish’s Media Ministry was formed. The ministry launched the parish newsletter, “The Herald”, the parish website, and the electronic Media bulletin board.
Also in May, the Public Affairs Ministry mobilized volunteers for the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and deployed them at the Manila command center and polling stations of the 6 barangays in the parish.
Another 2016 development was the construction of the Divine Mercy Chapel at the “basement” of the church right beside the Lingap Center. The chapel was designed by Arch. Vincent Martin “Veepee” Bondoc Pinpin (born 1967), who has previously worked on major church projects, such as the nearby Our Lady of the Pentecost Parish and Church of the Gesù in Loyola Heights. The chapel also features iconographic paintings in the Russian Orthodox/Byzantine style of miraculous 1499 image of “Our Lady of Perpetual Help” and “Saint Joseph: Patron of the Universal Church” at the altar wall, the “Pelican as Catholic Church sacrificing itself for its children” on the altar table, and the Four Evangelists on the ambo lectern; which were all painted by the Davaoeño artist, Mark Angel Tolentino. There is also a painting of the “Divine Mercy” by Fr. Armand Augustine Abeleda Tangi (born 1954), which is matched by the image of the “Sacred Heart of Jesus” on the tabernacle by Jessie Pingol.
The chapel is dedicated to the miraculous Divine Mercy (Polish: Miłosierdzie Boże) image, which is based on a vision of Saint Maria Faustyna Kowalska of the Blessed Sacrament (born Helena Kowalska; 1905–1938) in 1931. The highlight of the chapel is a replica of the miraculous crucifix of Cristo de Limpias by Paloy Cagayat. The original Cristo de Limpias can be found at the Santuario Del Cristo de la Agonia (Sanctuary of the Holy Christ of Agony) in Cantabria/ Covadonga, Asturias, in Spain; and it was sculpted by Pedro de Mena y Medrano (1628-1688) and was given to the church by Father Diego de la Piedra Secadura, in 1716.
Msgr. Jaime Mora, CTK parish priest from 1983-2004, passed away in December 2016. He was honored with a diocese posthumous award.
From 2016 to 2018, the whole main altar was under renovation, with the “crown” with the Christogram of JHS above the altar’s Christus Rēx being replaced with a larger crown above the Christus Rēx, representing Jesus’ divine rule. The new crown was designed by Arch. Veepee Pinpin and crafted by Jessie Pingol, and was unveiled in March 2018. The new retablo also featured four cherubs playing the harp and a lute, sing, and reading; which have all been removed as of the writing of this article.
The Sunrise Ministry geared to the needs of the elderly and the infirm was launched in June 2017.
Parish for Others
Fr. Steven Ceguerra Zabala, newly designated parish priest celebrated his first Mass as pastor on June 17, 2018.
The new crown also inspired the new parish priest, Fr. Steven Zabala (born 1967) to have a new logo for the parish designed, which he tasked Ladies of Charity volunteer, lector, and co-coordinator of the Catechetical Ministry, Sheryl E. Coronel, to design. Coronel worked with the members of Alfa Fusion (est. 1998), where she is the co-founder and VP / Marketing Director, to design the new logo, which was presented to the parishioners on the 24th of November 2018.
On January 17, 2019, Fr. Steven Zabala was formally installed as the 7th parish priest of Christ the King Parish Greenmeadows. The Urban Poor Ministry was formed in February with “Kariton ni Kiko” as one of the ministry’s projects. The Young Catholic Professionals Ministry was set up in April and the Via Lucis was first prayed in May of the same year.
In June 2019, the first Parish Pastoral Council under Fr. Steven was commissioned. In August, through the initiative of Fr. Steven Zabala and supported by stalwarts of CTK’s Music Ministry, the official CTK Hymn “Christ in our Hearts” was created. The composition brought together the music of Atty. Dodong Sanchez, lyrics by Tessa Mangahas and arrangement by Nonong Sampang.
The latest addition to Christ the King Parish is the “Mary’s Garden” at the west side of the church. The garden is a devotional bye-altar where the faithful light votive candles for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary to their prayers. The image of the Virgin Mary was sculpted by Juan Sajid de Leon Imao (born in 1971), and was unveiled on the 8th of September 2019. It was also on this day that the BEC, in coordination with the Legion of Mary launched the CTK Home Visits in the village communities to propagate the Devotion to Christ the King.
On November 2019, Christ the King Parish Greenmeadows culminated its three-month-long 40th-anniversary celebration as a “Parish for Others” with a slew of community activities. These included the 15th-anniversary event as a Stewardship Parish, “Kariton ni Kiko visit’, Images of Faith photo exhibit, Christ in Our Hearts concert, Anniversary Recollection with Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Kamustahan Visits to Gawad Kalinga-Zabarte, the elderly, youth reformists, and Persons Deprived of Liberty, a Fun Run, Novena and Fiesta Masses, a daylong Coffee After Church Ministries fair, Blessed Sacrament procession, CTK Clergy Homecoming and many more.
In December 2019, Fr. Steve launched Casa Setenta with an objective to raise P70 million to help the construction of Casa de Silencio, a retirement home for the elderly and infirm clergy of the Diocese of Cubao. As of September 2021, the effort has raised more than P50 million or about 70% percent of its pre-pandemic target despite the lockdowns that happened since March 16, 2020. Truly, this is a testament to the community’s generosity that “astounds and abounds” that could not be quarantined.
Boundless Caring Amid COVID-19
In March 2020, in response to the urgent needs of displaced communities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CTK launched OPLAN COVID. As of this writing, the campaign for the most vulnerable in the health crisis has raked in more than P7 million in cash donations. This figure doesn’t include the many in-kind donations including food, Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), mattresses and bed linen, toiletries, and other basic needs. OPLAN COVID was primarily created to help frontliners in their fundamental needs which included shelter, food, and medical equipment. It was a compassionate effort that was set up during the time when frontliners, our newfound heroes, were being ostracized due to the public’s fear of transmission of the deadly virus. OPLAN COVID also provided assistance to Cubao diocese parishes that were struggling to meet their overhead since Mass collections, its lifeblood, were paused due to the lockdowns. The fundraiser also sourced food to feed peripheral communities like Libis and other groups that suddenly got displaced because of restricted movement.
The parish galvanized into action to address food for the body and food for the soul. It was also during this time that CTK launched its online Masses to give spiritual sustenance to a suddenly detached community that could not attend public worship. Although it live-streamed its first online Mass on Pentecost Sunday of 2019, the lockdowns emphasized the urgency for more advanced live-streaming equipment and technology to reach out to a rapidly increasing online audience. Fr. Steve trained a motley group of sacristans and parish staff that was quarantined in the convent premises to enable them to live-stream the masses.
On the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the coffee table book, Christ the King Parish Greenmeadows: A Parish for Others was released. It documents in stunning images and texts the continuing faith story of the community.
On Good Shepherd, Sunday, April 25, 2021, Christ the King Parish Greenmeadows was formally declared as a Pilgrim Church of the Diocese of Cubao in celebration of 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines. Bishop Honesto Ongtioco presided over the Mass with Fr. Steven Zabala and Fr. Rick Montanez concelebrating. It was also on this day that CTK launched its ‘Pantry for Others’, a customized version of the popular community pantry effort. This campaign gathered goods and funds to boost the community pantries of the parishes of the Cubao Diocese that had large poor communities. To date, CTK’s Pantry for Others has gathered more than P1 million worth of aid in cash and in-kind. These were distributed to the Social Services Development Ministry of Cubao Diocese, Caritas Manila, poor parishes, and other charitable organizations.
The raging pandemic hasn’t curtailed the growth of the parish community. It simply changed in context but its evangelizing mission to share its gifts beyond its borders was further inflamed with each challenge to faith. Christ the King Parish Greenmeadows continues to be a community in motion. It is always seeking ways to reach out to nourish spiritually and otherwise, communities beyond its ecclesiastical borders.
Echoing some lines from the parish hymn, Fr. Steven writes about this community’s passion to be a ‘parish for others’ in the CTK coffee table book:
“Christ in our homes. Christ in our hearts.
As He has been yesterday.
As He is today after more than four decades of existence.
As He will be 40 ‘over morrow in our days after tomorrow.”
(References: Bing and Elise del Rosario, Tessa Mangahas, Louie Laudico, Dolly Borlongan, Leila Banico, Ben and Linda Famador, Mila Bangco, “Lakbay ng Lakan, Msgr. Dan Sta. Maria, Fr. Bong Tupino and Fr. Steven Zabala)