An unforgettable event ever! What a rare blessing from Almighty God for the Order of Augustinian Recollects! What a great number of workers for the Lord’s harvest! Never in the annals of history of the Augustinian Recollects in the Philippines since 1606 were so many Filipino priests ordained to the Sacred Order of Presbyterate—10 priests.
The new Recollect priests come from all over the Philippines: Ken Oliver Lao from Candelaria, Quezon; Nelson Plohimon from Kabankalan City, Jerik Troy Siozon from Tacloban City, Rafael Pecson from Jolo, Sulu; Mark Ryan Prado from Aklan; Nimrod Launio from Santa Barbara, Iloilo; Lounal Jarumay from Canlaon City; Leo Neil Bullos from Banga, South Cotabato; John Zachary Haguisan from Sipalay City and Enrico Nacorda from Cebu City.
The ordaining prelate Archbishop Socrates Villegas DD of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan was joined by more than sixty priests, including Augustinian confreres and secular clerics. Most of the concelebrants, however, were Augustinian Recollects from communities in Manila, Quezon City, Antipolo City, Cavite City, Palawan and Cebu City. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass commenced at 3:00 in the afternoon of 8 December 2015 at Our Lady of Consolation Parish Church, Mira-Nila Homes, Quezon City.
The ordination rites ended at already past six in the evening after the reading of the Apostolic Blessing from Pope Francis to the new Recollect ordained priests by Rome-based General Councilor Samson Silloriquez, then followed by Prior Provincial Dionisio Selma’s acknowledging their parents and finally the reading of individual “patentes” [Spanish for assignment papers] to the new priests by Provincial Secretary Jose Ernil Almayo. The traditional kissing of the hands of the new ministers began at 6:30 pm.
At the outset of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the CBCP president asked the beloved patroness of the Philippines, the Immaculate Conception, to bless the ten Augustinian Recollect deacons who were to receive the Order of Priesthood. He sought divine favors from the Immaculate Conception, the graces for the future priests in their new lives as consecrated priests of her Divine Son.
In his homily, Arcbishop Soc who did not read his prepared text throughout, if ever he had one, began by relating his first commitment in the morning: he gave the First Holy Communion to young children. He recounted the great encompassing love of God. God is love and the Eurcharist is the living proof of that love. He told the ordinandi that God’s love is immense: “You cannot contain God’s love.”
The archbishop, fondly called “Bishop Soc” said new priests would be dispensers of the Sacraments of Christ Jesus. And he added: “You will be His walking Sacraments. People will look at you as His walking Sacraments. When people see you, they will be reminded of God, they will recall God’s immeasurable love for His people. They will see God in you. They will see you as poor like His Son and obedient to bishops and superiors.”
“People will see you and realize,” Bishop Soc addressed the Recollect deacons, “that the source of happiness is neither money nor sex nor pleasure but solely God. He is the real source of our long-lasting happiness. God alone suffices; He alone can make you happy.” Then he recited from memory Saint Augustine: “O beauty ever ancient, ever new, too late have I loved You…. Our heart is restless until it rests in You.”
He continued: “You shall not be afraid of anything. Not even of death. You shall be afraid only of sin.” They should not be afraid of the Cross, of carrying the Cross of Jesus. He went on: “You will receive though your ordination many duties as well. You receive the duty of hearing confessions. Confession is a duty. Do not forgo your duty to be at the confessional, to receive the penitents and hear and forgive their sins, as Christ had told his Apostles.”
Bishop Soc then asked them: “Where are you going? A very Filipino question: “Saang punta mo? Saan ka pupunta?” Then he immediately answered the own query: “You are going to Heaven. Yes, you are going to Heaven, whether you will be assigned in the missions or in the parish or in the seminary. You are going to Heaven in the any place of assignment.”
Then Archbishop Villegas thanked the soon-to-be priests for inviting him to be their ordaining prelate: “I am thankful to be part of this very important phase of your priestly vocation. ”Beginning today,” he wrapped up by saying “We are stuck with each other. May God bless you always.”