At the time that the Filipino nation acquired its independence from Spain, in 1898, the Dominican missionaries found themselves oblique to relinquish their mission posts in the various places in the archipelago. One that with deep and sorrow and anguish they had to leave, which for three centuries they had cared for with singular love and dedication, was the ministry of the church and convent in Binondo. The province of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary handed over the Binondo Chinese parish to Archbishop Msgr. Bernardino Nozaleda who in turn entrusted it to the care and direction of the secular clergy.
What followed from this was truly disastrous for the cause of the faith among the Chinese Catholics in Manila. With no parish priests who could speak to them in their own language and without a church where they could pray together, the Chinese Catholic community was forced to disperse to other areas in Manila, and to the provinces. Many of them abandoned their faith and returned to their former practices. Others, while preserving their faith, had to fare without the necessary religious support and formation. Religion before long was converted into a social convenience or a way to prosper in life.
Things stood thus, until the Holy See decided to step in and put an end to such lamentable situation. The Sacred Consistorial Congregation, by a decree of December 7 1923, created a parish for the Chinese in Manila and entrusted it to the Dominicans of the province of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary ‘ad nutum Sanctae Cedis.’
With the creation of the new parish, there begins a new phase of Evangelization of the Chinese in Manila. Fr. Eutimio Perez, coming from Taiwan, was the first parish priest, assuming his post on July 26 1924. Although this Missionary worked all out for the Chinese Parishioners, he, nevertheless, encountered enormous difficulties. The parishioners had no church for their own. Through a special arrangement approved by the Holy See and put into effect by the Archbishop of Manila on October 21 1927, the Chinese parishioners would share the old Binondo church under a plan agreed upon with the Filipino Parish Priest. However, the parish priest of the Chinese would have a right to have an office of his own, as well as a room for catechesis in the old convent. It goes without saying that all this was meant to be provisional, until such time that the Chinese Catholics could have their own church.
Fr. Antonio Garcia succeeded Fr. Perez from 1939 up to conclusion of his mission in Binondo in October 1955. The Superiors of the Province of Or Lady of the Most Holy Rosary assigned him to his new mission fields: Venezuela, Spain. Of him it can be said that he accomplished well his mission in life. His memory will remain imperishable in the history of the Parish and school in Binondo.
Fr. Juan Fernandez succeeded Fr. Garcia as parish priest in 1955. Like his predecessor, Fr. Fernandez bought with him a vast and rich experience in missionary work and values in China. He was known for his great love for the Chinese entrusted to his spiritual care. From 1956 to 1969, he had for companion a young Dominican, Fr. Thomas Perez, who from the start managed to harmonize his youthful apprehension and zeal of work with the experience of maturity of Fr. Fernandez. Both formed a compact team, united and complimentary for each other. Fr. Lopez attests to his when he says, “Fr. Juan Fernandez turned out to be the best companion and co-worker I have had in all my priestly years.” This explains the fact that Crusader’s Academy began to live a period of great development and expansion in the teaching apostolate.
Fr. Juan and Fr. Thomas did not rest on their achievements. Improvements had to be mad on the convent and the School (Lorenzo Ruiz Academy). In 1957, the parish residence and the church underwent a complete reconstruction: the materials salvaged from the ruins of War had deteriorated and would not serve further.