Through the Years
Go and make disciples of all men.
THE Light of Jesus Family exists in obedience of the mandate of Jesus Christ before He ascended to Heaven: to make disciples of all men. The Light of Jesus fulfils this mandate through three major ministries: Mission, Media, Mercy.
1978 The Light of Jesus faith community started with a couple: Eugenio Sanchez Sr. and his wife Pilar. Bo’s parents met during the Japanese occupation time in the Philippines. Sis. Pilar, then only 17 going on 18, applied for a job in an office. And Bro. Gene, then a clerk at the office, happened to be assigned to process her application form which included her beautiful photo–he was smitten right there and then.
Long story short, he pursued her, in a matter of days or weeks they were attending Holy Mass together—a devotion they continued when they got married, and have passed on to their children.
At left, Bo with his parents; and the Sanchez siblings today,
from left: Pinkie, Bubu, Beckie, Bo, Chelle, and Tina.
Earlier, in 1962, Pope John XXIII prayed for the Church Renewal. In 1967, during a retreat, a group of Catholic students in Duquesne University, a private school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the United States, experienced a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. The phenomenon, called the Duquesne Weekend, fired up the Charismatic Renewal that reached the Philippines in the ‘60s.
A year before the Duquesne Weekend, on July 11, 1966, Bo Sanchez was born. Obviously at the time, no one would have guessed Bo would be called to continue the Church Renewal in this our part of the world.
March 26, 1978
On the invitation of Petra “Etring” Crisanto, mother of Celso Crisanto, husband of Chelle, the Sanchez eldest, Bro. Gene and Sis. Pilar attended the prayer meeting of the Upper Room Prayer Group in Project 7, Quezon City.
1979 On July 27, 1979, days after his 13th birthday, on July 11, Bogene attended a Bible Institute seminar held at the Our Lady of Miraculous Medal in Project 4, Quezon City. In her Diary, our main reference on our LOJ history, Sis. Pilar narrates that during the lectures, Bo didn’t seem to be listening to the lectures. He was drawing his favorite Voltes V characters at the back of the lecture handouts. Towards the end of the seminar, the lecturer asked questions to test whether the participants understood the lessons. Bo gave the best explanation on the Word of God and even recited the gist and key message of the seminar.
On December 8, 1979, a Saturday, Sis. Aida Manongdo, leader of the Upper Room prayer group, visited the Sanchez couple in their home at 56 Chicago St., Cubao, Quezon City.
She came with the good news: she received a prophecy that Bo a would preach the Word not only in the Philippines but also around the world.
She then suggested that Bo prepare to preach at the prayer meeting of the Upper Room group the following week.
And so, the following Saturday, December 15, 1979, during the Upper Room prayer meeting, Sis. Aida announced the prophecy she received—and then, yes, Bo, then only 13, preached the Word.
At left, Sis. Aida is with Bro. Bo and Sis. Pilar during a reunion at The Feast in 2012.
1980 On September 9, 1980, the Sanchezes organized their own prayer group, holding their prayer meeting at their garage. The following week, on September 16, 1980, Bo, then 14 years old, led a prayer meeting at the garage for the first time.
1982 In September 1982, during the celebration of the group’s second anniversary, Bo formed the group into a faith community named the Light of Jesus (LOJ), after a friend of Sis. Pilar’s vision of a lighthouse.
A few days before this day, Sis. Pilar and her friend, Helen Arceo, went to Vito Cruz to pray over a sick friend. After the pray over, they took a jeepney to go home. In the jeepney, Sis. Pilar told Helen her family is thinking of having a prayer group and she wondered what would be a good name for the group.
Helen told Sis. Pilar, “You know, once, I was thinking of your family and I saw a vision of a Lighthouse. Maybe you should call your group Jesus’ Light or Light of Jesus.”
That same evening, Sis. Pilar called up Sis. Aida Manongdo, and asked her too about the name of the prayer group the Sanchezes were planning. Sis. Aida said, “Call me back in ten minutes.” After ten minutes, Sis. Pilar asked Sis. Aida again about the name of the prayer group.
Sis. Aida said, “Call it Jesus’ Light or Light of Jesus.”
Thus, without knowing what Helen Arceo just said earlier on the same day, Aida confirmed the name Light of Jesus.
During her orientation talk at the start of the prayer meeting at 56 Chicago on September 9, Sis. Aida uttered this prophecy:
“I am the light my children. I give you light so you may be the light of the world.”
The group, adopting the name Light of Jesus, decided to hold the meeting regularly every Tuesday.
The Core Family
As he announced the plan to form the Community, Bro. Bo asked for a show of hands to find out who would support him.
A total 33 regular attendees of the prayer meetings– Bo’s siblings, close relatives, and neighbors– raised their hands, thus becoming the pioneer members of the Light of Jesus Family.
Members of the Light of Jesus Core Family, during a later get-together,
top row, from left: Bo Sanchez, Dhel Ganuelas, Vicky Calycay, Ador Lluch, Gene Sanchez, Tina Sanchez Galvez, here with son Joseph, Tita Mariñas, Bubu Sanchez Galia, Rinna Mariñas, Marietta Fontecha, Beckie Sanchez, Pio and Bebot Español.
Second row, from left: Jun Fontecha, Cora Lluch, Dedee Sanchez Calaycay, Sisang Sanchez Malapit, Pilar Sanchez, May Ulanday, Julie de Jesus, Trinidad ‘Neneng’ Mangahas, Lita Ramiscal, Chelle Sanchez Crisanto.
Third row, from left: Anthony ‘Toj’ Calaycay (to his right is wife Tess), Bobby Galvez, and Gil Ramiscal.
Not in photo: Vic Balenton, Celso Crisanto, Tom and Epay Lara, Tess Mariñas, Emy and Lydia Serafica, and Ces Ebol.
During its infant stage, the Light of Jesus ran through the leadership of a nucleus of elders – Bro. Gene Sanchez, Tom Lara, and Jun Fontecha, all ably supporting young Bo.
Eugenio Sanchez Sr.
Rising from the ranks in San Miguel Corporation till he reached the position of Assistant Vice President, Bro. Gene kindly shared his management expertise as he guided Bo and LOJ in its infant years.
Bro. Bo wrote in an article about his Dad: “Whatever group Dad joined, whether it was the homeowners’ association or the parish council, he’d always be chosen as the treasurer. Because he looked so honest. And he truly was. Because of this, he also took care of the finances of the Community. He labored that every single centavo be accounted for. I believe the reason we remain strong is our finances have been above reproach—a legacy he left behind.”
Narciso ‘Jun’ Fontecha
A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a lawyer, Bro. Jun worked at the Central Bank of the Philippines where he first attended a Charismatic Renewal prayer meeting.
He lived near the Sanchez house and one day, he happened to pass by the house and saw an announcement of the prayer meeting there. The following week Jun attended the prayer meeting. It was September 8, 1981, the day Bro. Bo asked for volunteers to join the prayer group he was forming. Jun volunteered and in time, he became one of the leaders, using well his management skills as CPA and lawyer to help the infant LOJ grow.
Tommy Lara was in his early 20s when he first came to the Light of Jesus prayer meeting at the Sanchez garage. He shares his story on the following pages…