Established in 1941, the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish is the first church to serve both the residents of the government’s Homesite Barrio Obrero and the wealth residents of the nearby Magdalena Estate. Before that, the residents in both area attended masses at the chapels of the Convent of Carmel of Thérèse of Lisieux (Est. 1926), the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres Novitiate and Provincial House (Est. 1931), the Franciscan St. Joseph’s Academy and Convent (Est. 1932), and the Christ the King Mission Seminary (Est. 1933); which are all located within the Magdalena Estates.
Upon the 1939 establishment of the Homesite Project’s Barrio Obrero, the residents approached the missionaries of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD, or Societas Verbi Divini) from the nearby Divine Word Mission Seminary, to hold masses in their neighborhood. So Christmas day 1940, Fr. Koodring, of the SDV, gave the first mass in a makeshift chapel along K-A Street (now Vice-Mayor Luis Sianghio Street); which now the site of the Kamuning Public Market.
In 1941, the Divine Word Mission Seminary’s founder Fr. Theodore Buttenbruch SVD (1886-1944) establishes the Parroquia del Sagrado Corzaon de Jesus or Sacred Heart Parish, and builds the church on the lot between South H Street (now First Class Scout Rogelio Celis Ybardolaza Street), South 8 Street (now Scoutmaster Librado L. S. Fernandez Street), and South 9 Street (now First Class Scout Felix Palma Fuentebella, Jr. Street).
Fr. Buttenbruch named the new parish after the Sacred Heart of Jesus, of which the SVD founder, the Dutch Saint Arnold Janssen (1837-1909), was a devotee. Symbolizing the sacrifice of Jesus washing the sins of mankind, the worship of the Sacratissimum Cor Lesu or Sacred Heart of Jesus stated in the middle ages, with Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) and Saint Francesco of Assisi (born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, 1181-1226). However its current devotion was revived Saint Marguerite-Marie Alacoque (1647-1690). On December 27, 1673, Saint Marguerite-Marie had a vision of the Sacred Heart at the monastery Convent at Paray-le-Monial, in France. Since then, the veneration of the Sacred Heart has spread throughout the globe, including the Philippines.
Fr. Buttenbruch commissioned the young architect, Arturo Mañalac, to design the new church, and he would experiment combining the clean lines of modern architecture with the classical Baroque silhouette, that most Filipinos were familiar with. Mañalac’s design impressed the priests of the SVD that they would hire him to design their next church, the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, in Cubao.
Arch. Arturo M. Mañalac (1915-1990) had built a reputation as a designer of Catholic churches, often combining traditional church architecture with modern styles during the mid to latter 20th century. Mañalac was a graduate of the School of Architecture of the University of Santo Tomas (UST), following in the footsteps of his uncle, Antonio Mañalac Toledo (1889-1972). In his travels to the United States, Mañalac was exposed to the Californian mission style of the Mexican-American Catholic expansions in the 1900s. Looking at the simplicity of this genre, Mañalac knew this style would be the best to employ in the humid weather of the Philippines, as well as capture the growing interest in modern architecture, which he had first explored with Art Deco; as seen in the 1944 Gala-Enriquez House in Sariaya, Quezon Province. Before working with the mission style, Arch. Mañalac would experiment on the elements of classical Philippine Baroque, Neo-Gothic and Neo-Romanesque styles; such as the 1941 Baroque Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in the Kamuning area, the 1950 Neo-Romanesque Immaculate Conception Parish in Cubao, and the Augustinian Recollect’s Neo-Gothic 1952 Convento de San Sebastian in Sampaloc, 1953 Casiciaco Recoletos Seminary in Baguio, and the Immaculate Conception Cathedral Parish, in Puerto Princesa City. For his Mission Style works, Arch. Mañalac created works for the Franciscan order; such as the 1947 reconstruction of the Saint Anthony Shrine in Sampaloc, the 1950 Monasterio de Santa Clara and 1957 Santa Rita de Cascia Parish in Quezon City, and the 1953 Santuario De San Antonio Parish in Makati City. Arch. Mañalac also served as the director of the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP), and president of the Philippine Institute of Architects (PIA).
In the decades past, the congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish added more classical Baroque elements to the church, including the ornately carved altar, lectern and ratablo (altarpiece); which houses images of the Crucified Christ, Saint Joseph, and the Immaculate Conception, completing the iconography of the Sagrada Familia or Holy Family. On the small side altars, at the left and right transepts, are the images of Saint Arnold Janssen and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Despite the highly ornamented Baroque accepts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, the Via Crusis or Stations of the Cross are rendered in a very modern style. Aside from presenting traditional fourteen scenes of the Passion and Death of Christ, there is the fifteenth station of the Resurrection of Jesus; which is a 20th century concept. Each station is a “Neo-Cubist” interpretation of the biblical event that is carved on an unevenly shaped block of wood, reminiscent of the style of the National Artist and godfather of Philippine modern sculpture, Napoleón Isabelo “Billy” Veloso Abueva (1930-2018).
Later additions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish came in the construction of the Saint Joseph Mission Center and Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish Offices in the late 1990s. The Mission Center was dedicated to Saint Joseph, as tribute to the SVD Austrian Saint Joseph Freinademetz (1852-1908), who died during his mission in China; and Saint Joseph the “step-father” of Jesus as the “father of the Church.”
In 2000, the Catholic fraternal order of the Knights of Columbus erected a “Peace Pole” at the church grounds, which is a breakaway from the typical “Monument to the Unborn Child” they have placed in many churches throughout the country. And in 2006, the Carillion Facility was installed in front of the church, which acts as the “bell tower” of the parish. The Carillion is designed in a modern symbol of the Sacred Heart, and was designed by Arch. Arnold T. De Vera and Eng. Marcial I. Pe Benito Jr.
And in 2008, the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish’s Grand Welcome Arch was opened to the public as the entrance into the church grounds. At the entry point are the images of Saint Arnold Janssen at the right and Saint Joseph Freinademetz to the left. At the exit, on display are the images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the right and the Sacred Heart of Mary at the left. The Grand Welcome Arch and the Carillon Facility were both primarily funded by Ludovico and Miriliza Llamas, who had grown up in the area before migrating to America.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish is not just a historical landmark of Quezon City, but an important and vital catalyst in community building of the barangays of Kamuning, Laging Handa, Obrero, Sacred Heart and South Triangle. Hence, even with the original architectural design of Arturo Mañalac, the continual adding to the church compound reflects that dynamic influence of the parish, in an equally dynamic neighborhood.