Pope Francis might have begged off from coming back to the Philippines next year for the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Cebu, but he has appointed two auxiliary bishops to help Archbishop José S. Palma organize it.
Elevated to the episcopacy were Msgr. Dennis Villarojo of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church in Cebu, and Fr. Oscar Florencio, rector of St. John the Evangelist School of Theology in Palo, Leyte.
They will serve as auxiliary bishops of Cebu along with Bishop Emilio Bataclan, who’s reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75 in September.
Archbishop Palma said he had requested the Vatican’s Congregation of Bishops for two auxiliary bishops in preparation for the IEC on Jan. 24-31, 2016.
“There is a need for auxiliary bishops [because] Bishop Bataclan is almost retiring and the IEC will be happening in 2016. That is why I gave an early request for two auxiliary bishops,” Palma told the Varsitarian, the official student organ of the University of Santo Tomas, in an interview.
A native of Cebu, Villarojo completed his studies in Philosophy at the San Carlos College Seminary and finished Philosophy and Theology at UST. He later finished his doctorate in Philosophy at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.
Villarojo was secretary to Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal from 1994 to 1998. He now serves as the secretary general of the 51st IEC.
Florencio, the vice chancellor of the Archdiocese of Palo, which Palma headed before his appointment in Cebu, completed his Philosophy studies at the Sacred Heart Seminary in Palo, and Theology at UST. He has a doctorate in Theology from the Holy Cross in Rome.
Reelected CBCP officers
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas has been reelected as president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
“When I see my weak self and lack of experience, I am overcome with fear. When I gaze on the face of God rich in mercy, I take courage and regain my hope and courage. Thus, I accepted the reelection,” Villegas said in his official Facebook page.
Villegas, who recently joined the Dominican Clerical Fraternity of the Philippines, became CBCP president in 2013, replacing Archbishop Palma.
Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles was also reelected as CBCP vice president, along with Palo Archbishop John Du as treasurer and Fr. Marvin Mejia as secretary-general.
CBCP officials may serve up to two terms of two years each.
During the plenary assembly, the bishops also elected members of the CBCP Permanent Council.
Luzon representatives are Bishops Rodolfo Beltran (San Fernando, La Union), Ruperto Santos (Balanga, Bataan), Gilbert Garcera (Daet, Camarines Sur), Bernardino Cortez (Infanta, Quezon) and Reynaldo Evangelista (Imus, Cavite).
Representing the Visayas are Bishops Crispin Varquez (Borongan, Eastern Samar) and Narciso Abellana (Romblon).
Mindanao representatives are Bishops José Cabantan (Malaybalay, Bukidnon) and Angelito Lampon (Jolo).
Columbans get CCP award
The Missionary Society of St. Columban will receive the Tanging Parangal from the Gawad CCP sa Sining of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).
The award will be given to the Columban fathers for their custodianship of the Malate Church in Manila, which they are conserving and restoring to preserve its architectural heritage.
The Columban fathers have been serving in the Malate Church, named after the Nuestra Señora de Remedios, since arriving in the Philippines in 1929.
The Columban fathers and the Malate parish community have also opposed the reclamation of Manila Bay.
New CBCP heritage head
Talking about heritage, the new chair of the CBCP Permanent Commission on the Cultural Patrimony of the Church is Pampanga Archbishop Pablo David.
He replaces Tagbilaran Bishop Leonardo Medroso, who can now devote his attention to the rehabilitation of the churches in Bohol destroyed by the 2013 earthquake.