by Joel V. Ocampo
The Church is under the patronage of St. Catherine of Alexandria, locally called “Apung Tali”, derived from “Apu” a Kapampangan term of endearment to an elderly or someone important, and “Catalina” the Kapampangan translation of “Catherine”.
According to the records* of Fray Francisco D. Musni, “Fr. Mateo de Peralta founded Porac in 1594 by organizing the Negritoes from various rancherias into a single town. In 1607, Porac was annexed to Bacolor as a visita; in 1641, the convent was relieved of its obligation to pay rent to Manila due to extreme poverty. Fathers Manuel Obregon (1726) and Nicolas Mornier (1735) are credited to have constructed the church, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1863 and restored by Frs. Isidoro Fernando and Esteban Ibeas (while stationed at Sta. Rita). Damaged again in World War II, it was restored by Fr. Daniel Castrillo, the last Augustinian parish priest of Pampanga.”
According to the Augustinian Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus of the Philippines, in 1614, Fr. Pedro de Zúñiga Velasco, OSA, now known as “Beato Pedro De Zuñiga” served as parish priest of St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish, Porac, Pampanga before leaving to evangelize Japan where he was martyred on August 19, 1622. He was known for his love of study, prayer and his ardent zeal for the salvation of souls.
On October 28, 2017, the Ex Ossibus (bone) relic of St. Catherine of Alexandria arrived and enshrined in the church.
On April 22, 2019, a 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck the island of Luzon. The church was severely damaged and the belfry (belltower) collapsed due to this earthquake. The church was then restored and on April 22, 2022, three years after the earthquake, a thanksgiving Mass and Blessing of the Church Belfry was held in St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish.
In 2021, St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish was one of the Jubilee Churches in the Archdiocese of San Fernando, Pampanga for the 500 Years of Christianization in the Philippines.
*Singsing, Vol. 3, No.1, pages 23-24. Published by Juan D. Nepomuceno Centre for Kapampangan Studies, Holy Angel University, Angeles City, Philippines