by Bernadette Andulte
Fr. Hugh R. Zurat, OFM, a shy and reluctant parish priest was appointed in 1979. He desired Santuario de San Antonio Parish to be known as a “Church of Prayer” so he started the renovation of the church altars and organized more parish organizations. There were many first time activities such as the Buling-Buling, Parish Fiesta, Octoberfest, and the Francisfest Concert.
In 1982, parishioners Mark and Mary Jo Pirola encouraged Fr. Hugh to organize the Single Young Adults, Antioch and Luke 18 weekends, tapping the youth of our parish. Thanks to Jolly Gomez, the youth programs till now draws young parishioners and non-parishioners to be involved.
In 1983, the Parish Renewal Experience Program was introduced to organize the married couples and adults of our parish. As an ordinary Church employee and as an insider-observer, I would say it was the most significant program that drew and motivated the parishioners to spiritual upliftment and parish involvement, which I encountered myself.
The PRE would not have been successful without Fr. Hugh. He laid the groundwork that became the foundation of the parish christian relationships and programs centered on prayer and love. I myself became more involved with the parish activities and did not mind working beyond my working hours.
I remember the themes that motivated the parishioners to respond in ONENESS were “We are Family and the Parish Family that prays together… plays together”.
Fr. Hugh Zurat, OFM started to bloom in his pastoral ministry. Since then till 1989 the parish became alive, more involved, more loving and all smiles. The parishioners were so inspired not only because of the activities but because of Fr. Hugh’s charisma, dedication and leadership, devoting his time 24/7 to his pastoral ministry. Up to now, the euphoria of being together and united as a parish is still vivid in my mind! How I wish we could have those times back.
When Fr. Hugh left, the parish was like a ghost town. It was so quiet. Fr. Hugh was the magnet as he became a pastor, confidant and a friend.
Today, I see the parishioners growing as well as being active with all kinds of activities, especially with their outreach programs. I am proud to say that what I love most about SSAP are the parishioners, their untiring support of their time and their generous heart is unquestionable, their faith bonded in unity, follows Jesus. Indeed, Christ is the center of all relationships, activities and programs in SSAP. He removed the barriers that so often separate the parishioners. He drew them together in true friendship and love. To God be the glory in SSAP!
As published in the October 16 issue of the Parish Bulletin.