"LIWANAG" is the name by which the Filipino community of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish is now known. It is hoped that every time people refer to the community of Filipinos in this parish, they will just say "LIWANAG".
It was only in 2004 that the word "LIWANAG" was chosen as name for the Filipino community of OLL. This came about when Fr. Curtis Lambert, Pastor, wanted a one-word name for the community, in Pilipino language, and which denotes what the community stands for religiously and spiritually. After discussing some suggested names and praying about it, the group chose "LIWANAG" as the new name by which the Filipino Community of OLL should henceforward be referred. Fr. Lambert approved the choice.
Why 'LIWANAG"? "Liwanag" is a Pilipino word which means light. The choice was inspired by the passage from Matthew 5:14-16 - "You are the light of the world. A city set in a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp stand, where it gives light to all the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father." The Filipino community hopes to be a light ("liwanag") that carries the True Light - Jesus Christ - to one another and to the parish in general. This they hope to achieve through their active participation in the mission of the church, through evangelization, liturgical ministries, faith sharing, social outreach, and in their preservation of Filipino religious and cultural traditions.
Let it be understood that this Filipino community has been a part of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish for many years now. It started to grow in the late 1970"s.
True to their religious and cultural roots, the life of the Filipinos revolve around the church and the school. When the parish school was still open, they enrolled their children there and actively supported the school. Some parents became members of the school board. Some volunteered to teach religious education classes. Across the street, in the church, they have been very active in liturgical ministries - as lectors and extraordinary ministers of communion, and their children were altar servers. When the ramp for physically handicapped church-goers was constructed some years ago, two Filipinos lend their hands and expertise - Antonio Pelipada and William Pumanes - both architects.
When the first Filipino saint was canonized in Rome in 1987, several parishioners attended the event, including Josefina Pelipada and the late Felipe Mandin. Through their effort, OLL was designated as the shrine of San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila. Since then the Feast of San Lorenzo has been celebrated here annually and attended by devotees from other parishes of the Archdiocese, as well as those from other ethnic groups.
When the then Ethnic Ministries Office started the program of Small Faith Communities, the OLL Filipino community was chosen to be among the few pioneer groups. Two Filipino priests - Fr. Gregg Banaga and Fr. Eoli Roselada - spearheaded the movement. The SFC became a venue for the continued spiritual and religious development of those involved in it. For a time, it was a strong factor in welding the members together. Unfortunately, the movement fizzled out. More recently, however, a faith sharing group had been formed to assume a similar goal, and together with the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Prayer Group, helps in the spiritual development of the community.
The OLL Filipino community was among the very first enthusiastic groups to promote the tradition of "Simbang Gabi" when the Chicago Archdiocese Ethnic Ministries Office started the annual celebration. Since then, the community has celebrated the "Simbang Gabi" every year.
Migration and other factors have diminished the number of Filipino parishioners at OLL. But it has not diminished the active involvement in church activities of those left behind. They continue the traditions and celebrations, the devotions and festivals, including the "Flores de Mayo"