VIRAC, Catanduanes – In a landmark event on June 29, 2024, the Diocese of Virac celebrated both the installation of its new Bishop and its Golden Jubilee, marking 50 years of faith, growth, and service. The ceremony was graced by notable figures from the Catholic Church and local government, showcasing a profound sense of community and spirituality.

The newly installed Bishop commenced his address by welcoming the distinguished guests, including:

  • His Eminence, Jose Cardinal Advincula, Archbishop of Manila, The Most Reverend Charles Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines
  • Most Reverend Rex Andrew Alarcon, Archbishop of Cáceres, Most Reverend Manolo de los Santos, Bishop Emeritus of Virac, Most Reverend Rolando Octavio J. Tria Tirona, Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Cáceres, Most Reverend Gilbert Garcera, Archbishop of Lipa.

The Bishop also acknowledged various bishops, clergy, and government leaders, among them Governor Joseph Cua, Mayor Samuel Laynes, and Congressman Yoloyo Rodríguez, Jr.

In his inaugural address, the Bishop began with the words, “This is the Lord’s doing. It is marvelous in our eyes.” He expressed his humility and joy in being the newly installed Bishop, especially during such a significant celebration of the Golden Jubilee. He quoted Saint Paul, reminding the congregation that they are “God’s fellow workers,” and emphasized the importance of cultivating faith, building community, and sharing God’s love.

The Bishop conveyed deep gratitude to the Holy Trinity for guiding him and the diocese on their sacred journey. He highlighted the diocese’s history of resilience and unity, noting that despite being a small island frequently hit by typhoons, Virac has hidden treasures and a rich spiritual heritage. He acknowledged the contributions of previous bishops and the growing number of priestly vocations, parishes, and religious organizations, which attest to the diocese’s spiritual maturity and vitality.

He called on the community to remember their glorious past while facing future challenges with a strong heart and faith. The Bishop appreciated the support of government leaders, emphasizing the importance of collaboration between the church and state for the community’s welfare.

Reflecting on his journey, he shared an anecdote about an old deaf lady who expressed surprise at his assignment to Virac. He used this story to underscore the battles against evil, immorality, and religious indifference that the diocese must face, armed with goodness, truth, and love. He vowed to lead with inclusivity, compassion, and a commitment to Christ’s teachings, urging the faithful to act together with love, mercy, and justice.

The Bishop emphasized the shared mission of spreading the gospel and being a beacon of hope. He likened their journey to a boat setting out to sea, filled with promise and challenges but guided by the Lord’s presence. He committed to listening to the hopes and concerns of the community, fostering unity and love, and working together for a better future.

Expressing his gratitude to various individuals and groups, the Bishop thanked Pope Francis, the Apostolic Nuncio, Cardinal Advincula, and other church leaders for their support and presence. He acknowledged the contributions of previous bishops, clergy, religious leaders, and the laity who have served the diocese with unwavering faith.

The Bishop also extended heartfelt thanks to government officials, including Governor Joseph Cua, Mayor Samuel Laynes, and Congressman Yoloyo Rodríguez, Jr., for their support. He appreciated the efforts of the event organizers, choir members, and benefactors who made the celebration possible.

In conclusion, the Bishop called on the faithful of Virac to join him in this journey, facing challenges with courage and trust in God’s providence. He emphasized that Virac is not just a happy island because of its location, but because it is a family with Christ at the center. He urged the community to work together, bringing the message of the gospel to all corners of the diocese and reflecting Christ’s love in all that they do.

With hearts full of faith, the Bishop encouraged the faithful to embark on this journey with hope, faith, and a steadfast commitment to their shared vision. He expressed his commitment to serving with humility, compassion, and dedication, and asked for the community’s support, active participation, and prayers.

The event marked a new chapter for the Diocese of Virac, highlighting the enduring power of faith and unity in the face of challenges. The Bishop’s message of hope, love, and commitment to Christ’s teachings resonated deeply with the congregation, setting a strong foundation for the future of the diocese. (Ferdz M. Brizo/Bicol Peryodiko/Radyo Peryodiko)