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The Ave Maria Church

by Andrew D. Daiwey

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The Ave Maria Church, constructed on a promontory overlooking the Asin Road barangay was a "dream come true" of a former catechist teacher from Patpat, Hungduan, Ifugao, who obeyed the call of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a dream in 1970 "not to abandon his people". This person is incumbent and three-termer punong barangay Reynaldo Lopez Nauyac of Asin Road.

After years of soul-searching and prayers, Nauyac has come to evaluate and realize his role in society. On January 1, 1980, he finally made his new year's resolution to build a church and to strengthen the Catholic faith which he carried from his home town of Hungduan to Asin Road and to protect it from encouchment by other religious denominations.

Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, brother Nauyac brought his idea to Bishop Emiliano Madangeng after the service held at an open space where the Ave Maria Church now stands. His idea was the construction of a church at Asin Road to be named AVE MARIA CHURCH in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary who appeared in his dream. This idea impressed Bishop Madangeng that he readily gave the first donation of P700.00 which started the fund drive rolling.

Nauyac, by the blessing and approval of bishop Madangeng, organized a soliciting committee composed of the different church organizations which acted as the core group. This core group made letters which were endorsed by Bishop Madangeng to foreign donors, in order to put up a one million peso church building.

As a result of the solicitation letters, the committee received a notice from England stating that an amout of $10,000.00 or an equivalent of P250,000.00 is donated for the Asin Church. Elated by this foreign donation, the local solicitation committee worked harder and was able to produce P20,000.00 making a total amount of P270,000.00 available for the project. They were now ready to start the work. The committee decided to use the whole amount of P270,000.00 for the purchase of materials only and nothing was set aside for labor. The laborers were very patient, even if they weren't paid on time.

The core group which manages the financial needs of the project is composed of: Reynaldo Lopez Nauyac, chairman; Benjamin Laguyo, vice-chairman; Virginia Ognayon, treasurer; Rita Binwag, secretary; Ramon Dacawi, PRO; and Beata Balaso, representative of the Bishop's office.

The ground breaking was done on June 17, 1993, officiated by Rev. Fr. Manuel Castro, Parish rector of St. Vincent's Church and designated in-charge of the Asin congregation. The construction work started formally on the church. However, as the work progressed, several problems were cropping up.

In October 1993 the soliciting committee approved the selling of tickets, but the turnover was coming in trickles and so it became more discouraging.

Nauyac was very much depressed and worried on how to produce the one million pesos needed to build the church. He was about to withdraw from the project. Fr. Castro on seeing the predicament, came to the rescue. He said, "Nauyac, do not worry so much, the Lord will help us." With this encouragement, the work on the church started to progress. The soliciting committee was able to raise morethan P200,000.00 from the sale of tickets. Funds started pouring in until it was completed.

On May 14, 1994, the Ave Maria Church was blessed and inaugurated by his Excellency, Bishop Ernesto Salgado of the Vicariate of Baguio and Benguet.

In his inaugural speech punong barangay Nauyac, the prime mover and dreamer for the construction of the AVE MARIA CHURCH, said:

To all of you, may our good Lord reward you a hundredfold. The
Church stands as a symbol of our Christian unity. The victory of
God worked miraculously through each one of us. The Church
is our gateway to heaven secured by our Blessed Mother who
is very happy to receive the people of Asin Road without any
question ask. Thank you and be a part of our Pistan di Umili
1994. Salamat!

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