Xavier University has just released a statement on the exhumation of the remains of deceased Jesuits at the old cemetery at Searsolin in Uptown Cagayan de Oro and their transfer to a columbarium. Accordingly, the plan was first discussed in 2014 and was finally completed last June 2022 including the cremation of the remains and their transfer to the temporary Jesuit Memorial Park at XU Basic Education Pueblo Campus. The old Jesuit Cemetery will be affected by the planned XU Masterson Campus and Manresa Town.

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photo by Anselmo Mercado

Among the departed Jesuits buried at Searsolin were Fr. William Masterson SJ, Fr. Antonio Cuna SJ, Fr. William Nicholson SJ, Fr. Francis Madigan SJ, Fr. and James McKeough SJ, among others.

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photo by Antonio La Vina
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photo by Antonio La Vina

We are reposting the statement in toto below.

In 2014, the Jesuit community of Cagayan de Oro met and began discussing the need to construct a four-level niche at the side of the Jesuit cemetery in Searsolin to serve as the final resting place of our departed brothers in the Lord. This was deemed necessary since the ground was becoming difficult to dig due to the hard adobe soil. The atmosphere is also not conducive for family, friends, and the Jesuit community to pray and remember the dead, due to the adjacent busy traffic of Masterson Avenue.

Thus, the Jesuit Community had an initial plan to exhume the remains of our deceased brothers and transfer them to the planned multi-level niche with a developed space conducive for prayer and remembrance. By 2017, the project was sent to Province leadership for confirmation. Subsequently, the Province Leadership approved the construction of the niche, the exhumation, and cremation of the dead, and their transfer to the new niche. The construction of the niche was finished in 2019, but due to the Covid pandemic, the exhumation and cremation did not push through.

Finally, last June 2022, the Jesuit Community was able to continue the project, and it providentially timed with Xavier University’s preparations for the building of its “Campus of the Future”. The Jesuit community carried on with the exhumation and cremation of the remains of our deceased brothers resting at the old Jesuit cemetery in Searsolin. The exhumation was directly and personally supervised by Sch. Franz Docto, SJ, himself an architect by profession. After securing all necessary government permits, the Jesuit Community hired JMG Construction and General Merchandise to do the exhumation while coordinating with the Divine Shepherd Memorial Inc. for the cremation of all the remains of our deceased brothers. 

In the morning of June 20, Fr. IJ Chan-Gonzaga, SJ, Rector of the Jesuit Community of Cagayan de Oro, together with our two Jesuit regents, led the exhumation and cremation rites and prayers. Sch. Franz, assisted by Sch Ren Mariano, SJ oversaw and closely monitored the work until all the remains of our brother-Jesuits were properly exhumed, marked, and cremated. On June 23, after the cremation of all the exhumed remains, Fr. Rector and the two other Jesuits led the blessing and prayers over the temporary location of the urns, which is a small room in Searsolin.

However, instead of being transferred to a new niche constructed in 2019, a temporary Jesuit Memorial Park at the XU Basic Education complex in Pueblo is under construction, this will serve as the provisionary resting place of the remains of our dear Jesuit brothers until they will be transferred to the new Jesuit columbarium beside the new University Church in the Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan’s Masterson Campus. Rest assured, that the temporary Jesuit Memorial Park at the XU Basic Education Complex in Pueblo de Oro and the planned permanent columbarium at the New Campus will be open to friends and family for them to pray and celebrate the lives of the Jesuit in remembrance.

It is our earnest hope that in 2026, the remains of our deceased brothers will be transferred to their permanent resting place where friends, family, and their brother Jesuits can gather to pray for their souls and remember their lives spent for the service of God and neighbor.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.

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photo by XU
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photo by XU

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