Faith and Spirituality

Will Ka Luring Franco, a Taguig catechist, be the next Filipino saint?

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Will Ka Luring Franco, a Taguig catechist, be the next Filipino saint?

FILIPINO SAINT? The late Laureana 'Ka Luring' Franco of Hagonoy, Taguig City, is being pushed as a candidate for Catholic sainthood.

Diocese of Pasig

The Diocese of Pasig starts the process for the sainthood of Laureana ‘Ka Luring’ Franco, a 75-year-old lay catechist who died of cancer in 2011

MANILA, Philippines – In 1969, Laureana “Ka Luring” Franco did the unthinkable: quit her government job to become a full-time catechist without a salary. 

“They thought I was crazy to give up a well-paying and secure job back in the ‘60s and spend all my separation pay to enroll for a catechist’s training course,” Franco said in a feature by Catholic news outlet UCAN in 1995. “They couldn’t understand it when I explained I was happiest teaching catechism to children.”

After leaving her job as telephone switchboard operator and accounting clerk at the Philippine Air Force, Franco became known for her work as catechist – a teacher of the faith – in Taguig. She also became the first female lay minister of the Archdiocese of Manila, which covered Taguig before the city became part of the Diocese of Pasig in 2003.  

In 1990, Franco received one of the highest papal honors, the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice award, for her work as catechist, upon the recommendation of Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin and the approval of Pope John Paul II. In 2002 came another honor for Franco – the Mother Teresa Award – named in honor of a famous nun, now a saint, who served the poor in India.

Born to a poor family in Hagonoy, Taguig City, Franco died of cancer at the age of 75 on October 17, 2011.

Now, the Diocese of Pasig aims to give Franco the highest of honors – elevation to the Catholic Church’s roster of saints – by pushing that she be beatified (or declared a “blessed,” one major step away from sainthood) and later canonized (or included in the Catholic Church’s “canon” of exemplary Catholics believed to be now in heaven).

‘Start of the process’

The Diocese of Pasig on Saturday, February 24, posted on its Facebook page the banns or the public announcement that it is proposing Franco as a candidate for sainthood and that it is inviting Catholics to provide “helpful information” about the lay catechist.

“With this circular letter, I invite all the People of God in the Diocese of Pasig to participate in the tedious process of bringing to light the life and heroic virtues of a legendary catechist to sainthood,” wrote Pasig Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara in a directive dated Thursday, February 22.

The directive came with a separate document, called an edict, also dated February 22.

“With the publication of the edict, herewith attached, is the start of the process as required by the Dicastery for the Causes of the Saints,” said Vergara, referring to the Vatican department in charge of screening candidates for sainthood.

Altar, Architecture, Building
HOME DIOCESE. Pasig Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara poses beside a portrait of Laureana ‘Ka Luring’ Franco in October 2021, as the diocese launched the cause for her beatification and canonization. Photo courtesy of the Diocese of Pasig

“There are many stages in the process,” explained Vergara, who is also vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. “As we work on this process, may the Holy Spirit guide us and may the blessings of God be upon us.”

The February 22 edict states that Erickson Javier has been named postulator, the person in charge of the cause for the beatification and canonization of Franco. 

In this edict, Vergara said Javier wrote him a petition letter “asking for the opening of the cause” of Franco, and an investigation into her life to see if she is worthy to be beatified and canonized.

Vergara said Catholics with helpful information about Franco could share these with the chancellor of the Diocese of Pasig, Father Joeffrey Brian Catuiran, at the diocese’s chancery office at Tahanan ng Mabuting Pastol, Caniogan, Pasig City.

Holiness in daily life 

The push for Franco’s beatification and canonization is part of a bigger effort by the Catholic Church to introduce modern-day saints for the 21st century. One of the new candidates for sainthood in the Philippines is Niña Ruiz Abad, a 13-year-old girl from Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, who died of an incurable heart disease in 1993.

Sainthood is a tedious, expensive, and at times political process within the Vatican bureaucracy, and it takes years or even decades to declare a person a saint – a model of faith and an intercessor in heaven. Despite having had many sainthood candidates, the Philippines has only had two saints so far – Lorenzo Ruiz of Manila and Pedro Calungsod of Cebu. 

Father Bernie Carpio of the Diocese of Pasig, in a documentary on Franco’s life, explained that Franco’s holiness can be seen in her day-to-day life. “Sa simple’t ordinaryong buhay, isa lang ang pakay ni Ka Luring: ano ba ang kalooban ng Diyos (In a simple and ordinary life, Ka Luring had one goal: what is the will of God)?” Carpio said.

The 1995 UCAN feature on Franco talked about her “greatest trial” at that time, when another religious group tried to recruit her – offering her an envelope containing $10,000 on her birthday – at a time when her mother “was dying of cancer and our bills were piling up for her treatment.”

Her recruiters said “that if Franco agreed to be their catechist, they would leave the money and provide her that same amount monthly to fund a catechetical program for them and to help finance her mother’s treatment,” UCAN reported.

Refusing this offer, Franco told them: “I can fool myself and I can fool you into believing I have changed my faith and give catechesis for you, just for the salary. But I can never fool God, he will know the truth.”

In the documentary posted by the Diocese of Pasig, Franco also spoke of the difficulties of being a catechist in Metro Manila, lamenting how distractions from media make it difficult to teach catechism even in private schools. 

Franco, however, emphasized the responsibility of parents in rearing their children. “Ang magulang din dapat ang magpapaliwanag tungkol sa Panginoong Diyos (Parents should also be the ones explaining about the Lord God),” Franco said. –

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email