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Best dressed priests’ tailors honoured

MANILA (Agencies) : The Mother Butler Guild, an organisation that has dressed thousands of priests and bishops for numerous liturgical celebrations, marked its 50th year of service to the Philippine Church in July this year at a national assembly held at the World Trade Centre in Manila.

Around 5,000 delegates attended the two-day national event. The then-archbishop of Manila, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales led the opening Mass and Sister Kathleen Connell, from the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary in New York, spoke on The Path to Renewal Set Out by Mother Joseph Butler.

The Mother Butler Guild draws its charism from Mother Marie Joseph Butler, an Irish sister of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, whose love for the Eucharist inspired the formation of the group in Manila in 1961.

Then then-archbishop of Manila, Rufino Cardinal Santos, commissioned the organisation to reach out to the parishes of the archdiocese to take care of dressing the altar and the ministers, as well as supplying the liturgical linen.

In 1974, the group went national, when the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, from Manila, instructed the then president of the group, later the Philippine ambassador to the Vatican and currently the chairperson of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, Henrietta de Villa, to extend their ministry to far-flung parishes in the provinces.

But it was only in 1976 that the group received its final mandate from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of The Philippines to make its liturgical services available to all dioceses across the country.

The Mother Butler Guild has provided the vestments for many important celebrations, including the visits of Pope Paul VI in 1970, Pope John Paul II in 1981 and 1995, during the beatification of St. Lorenzo Ruiz and companions, and for the Tenth World Youth Day and the 400th anniversary celebrations of Manila, Cebu, Caceres and Nueva Segovia.

But it was during the first National Congress of the Clergy in 2004 and 2010 that the Mother Butler Guild took on its biggest challenge, dressing over 4,000 priests at the first one and 6,542 for the second.

Despite the distinction of having dressed up the hierarchy—from the pope to the most humble assistant priest in far-flung areas—the guild’s members have remained unassuming in their task and put a high premium on humility, love and joy.

Pope Benedict XVI bestowed a special apostolic blessing on the guild in honour of the anniversary. A special award was launched during the convention to five outstanding members for their contribution to liturgical presentation in the country’s churches.