In the mid-sixties Father Felipe Jumao-as, then chaplain of the Sacred Heart Seminary chapel, felt the need for a parish for the people residing around the Lupit area. On. June 1, 1967, a new parish was erected by Bishop Antonio Y. Fortich. He gave it the official name San Antonio Abad. Its territory was bounded on the north by Libertad Street, Mansilingan on the east, Tangub on the south, and on the west, the Magsungay area. Services for the newly declared parish were held by Fr. Jumao-as and his assistant Fr. Danilo Paderna at the chapel of the Sacred Heart Seminary. Not long after, Fr. Jumao-as was mandated to build a church as the chapel, already used by the Seminary, could no longer accommodate the growing needs of the new parish.
With two hectares of land donated by Doña Carmen vda de Lizares, work in the church site started in November, 1967 and its first cornerstone was laid on January 17, 1968, the feast of St. Anthony, the Abbot. Architect Velez from Cebu, Engineer Amadeo Sijap, foreman, the late Amado Laganan and Jorge Juniga were the planners and builders of the church.
To be able to start construction, Fr. Jumao-as and Fr. Paderna, with the consent of Bishop Fortich, mort-gaged the two hectares to the Development Bank of the Philippines for P100,000.00. The amount was not sufficient to complete the church building. Fund raising activities were spearheaded by Carmen Lizares, Linda Gatuslao and Gloria Esteban, among others. Due to limited funds, the work which began in 1968 was completed in 1971, roughly three years later. The use of the Sacred Heart chapel was returned to the Seminary and the new church was inaugurated on January 17, 1972 with four priests assigned to it, namely: Father Jumao-as as its first parish priest, Fathers Danil Paderna, Norman Segovia, and Antonio Sedefio as assistants.
Financial difficulties continued to pose a prol lem. Few parishioners could afford the completion and maintenance of the new structure. The income of the church was not enough to meet the needs and obligations of the parish. Finally, it was decided that one hectare of the donated land be returned to the Lizares family provided they shoulder the remaining loan balance at the bank.
From San Antonio Abad Parish erected in 1967,three new parishes were born:
• St. Isidore Parish - Tangub
• Holy Family Parish - City Heights
• St. Joseph the Worker Parish - Dona Juliana Heights.
It became a practice among the early parishioners tocelebrate important churchfeasts. Donations in cash and in kind were solicited from the more affluent members and everyone was invited to join the festivities. Those were remembered as happy occasions because the rich and the poor came together in celebration. The groups who were active then were the Barangay sang Virgen and the Legion of Mary. The Barangay sang Virgen Youth Movement Seminar Retreat was began and the Kapawa Dance Troupe was organized too.
Father Antonio Sedefio was assigned to San Antonio Abad as its second parish priest from 1978 to 1981. He recalled that in 1978 there was yet no bridge and the place was called "kaingin" because the church building was surrounded by tall cogon grass. It was a secluded place and only a few people attended Mass. However, when the Lupit Bridge was completed in the early part of 1981, the number of people who came to Mass increased.
In addition to the groups already mentioned, the Samarians and the Christian Family Movement helped in the improvement of the church. Also, a number of individuals offered differ-ent contributions to complete the church.
The figure of the Risen Christ on the main altar was done by the National Artist Saprid, through the initiative of Edgardo "Budot" Lizares. Ms. Benneth Garcia donated the colored glass for the upper portion of the building. Edgard() Lizares and Jess Ayco of the Art Association of Bacolod were responsible for gathering the different artists who painted the fifteen Stations of the Cross. Rev. Benildo Familiaran, a Protestant minister, painted the last station, the Res-urrection of Jesus. At a ceremony Bishop Antonio Fortich blessed the Stations while the Cosmopolitan Church Choir provided the singing. This ecumenical affair was a milestone in the history of the diocese of Bacolod.
In 1979, the Daughters of Mary Inimaculate was given by the parish priest the privilege to transfer its kinder school from the Esteban building at Libertad Street to its present site behind the church building.
In 1981, Fr. Ramon Tirania with his assistant, Fr. Humberto Tumbos, became the third parish priest of San Antonio Abad. It was at this time that the Knights of Columbus 5684 became part of the parish community. The members initiated projects like repair of the convent, donations of chairs, tables and other similar items and provided free medical clinic for needy parishioners.
Although Saturday Masses were held in St. Francis Village, then a growing community, in Bacolod Memorial Pal and in Taculing proper, gathering parishioners to attend various liturgical celebrations in the main church still remained difficult because public transport routes excluded the vicinity of the church building.
1982 saw Fr. Danilo Paderna reassigned as fourth Parish Priest of San Antonio Abad. The convento then could hardly be described as finished. The front area of the Church was dusty during the summer months and muddy during the rainy season. Gradually as the parish began to build up its financial reserve, the front yard was cemented. Additional construction expenses came from stipends and Mass collections. Fr. Padema had the convento roof fixed through a personal loan.
It was also at this juncture that the diocesan Catholic Relief Services and the Chito Foundation's Pagkaon Program were brought into the parish to serve its indigent members.
In the span of his six year stay, Fr. Dan observed that big crowds of people would gather during the Christmas season, the Holy Week and the parish fiesta; but, on regular days, Sunday masses would be attended by the usual churchgoers and people from outside the parish who found the mass schedule convenient.
The story of our parish does not end with its history. Our story continues as we struggle towards a vision that all may have life.