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To Holy Namers on their 80th year
by : Rev. Fr. Roland Dela Rosa, OP, Rector of University of Santo Tomas
This article was originally published at Manila Bulletin last January 8, 2011

The Holy Name Society of the Philippines was born in the University of Santo Tomas on November 13, 1930. No less than the former rector, Fr. Silvestre Sancho, OP, and a distinguished UST alumnus, Manuel Colayco, who was also an acclaimed hero during the 1945 liberation of Manila, were the co-founders of the society.

When Fr. Sancho and Mr. Colayco established this organization, they did not intend it to remain in the university; nor did they entrust its growth and development to the Dominicans. After all, Dominicans are not very good in propagating devotions, except the Rosary. The Holy Name Society was founded to be essentially a lay organization, a confraternity of Catholic men who commit themselves to propagate the devotion to the holy name of Jesus. In other words, the growth of this society depends on the active participation and leadership of lay Catholics. And indeed, after its founding in UST, the society spread to many parts of the country, thanks to the foresight and initiative of its lay leaders.

During their 80th anniversary, however, I noticed that there were very few young people in the group. One member even admitted that they find it difficult to recruit new members. He thinks that their organization, once an active force in society and in the Church, has suffered the same fate as other traditional lay organizations had.

The decline of these Church groups can be blamed on many things, but it will not hurt if they look closely on their membership. Not a few take their organizations as mere civic groups committed to some social or philanthropic work. Worse, some members see their organization as a social ladder. They think that by joining the “club,” they will attain a certain exalted status in society. Priding themselves with their organization’s pin, medal, uniform, or banner, they are content with showing these during meetings or reunions.

The 80th anniversary of the Holy Namers is a good occasion for its leaders and members to revive the original enthusiasm that impelled the first members to join the society. One striking feature of this society is its being composed originally of MEN. Seldom do we find lay organizations whose membership is limited to the male members of our species. But it is here in the Philippines, more than anywhere, and now, more than ever, that the Church needs groups like Holy Namers, composed of men who are not ashamed to publicly display their religiosity and piety.

Filipino males are sometimes quite unfairly branded as the kind of Catholics who go out of the church to smoke while the priest delivers the homily; or those who visit the church only three times in their lifetime – during baptism, wedding, and funeral. The Feast of the Quiapo Nazarene disproves this stereotype.

Why can’t the Filipino male Catholic show the same religious intensity and conviction in the other aspects of his life?

How I wish that the present Holy Namers would unite themselves and form a powerful advocacy group, robust spiritual and moral warriors who could start a spiritual renewal among other men, promoting moral integrity in public and private life, and serving as a potent agent in promoting Catholic values and principles in government, business, and other fields.

If Holy Namers truly believe that the name of Jesus exudes power and authority, as St. Peter believed – and if they are convinced the our Lord will grant any request made in his name, then it is about time that they asked Him to unite all Holy Namers around the country, inflame them with passion, so they could start working for the greater glory of Jesus’ name.