Reflections on the Installation of the new bishop of Infanta
By Mila Glodava
Editors note: due to the large crowd that attended the installation of Bishop Bernardino Cortez on Friday, Jan. 23, this writer sat in the adoration chapel behind the more than 40 bishops who graced the occasion, and was unable to take photos other than the back and heads of the bishops. In addition, it was hard to hear the speeches due to our location. Below is a short reflection on the homily, speeches and other interesting happenings during the installation.
Prelature of Infanta was duly represented: garbed in t-shirts of various colors, parishes from across the prelature--from Real, Infanta and Nakar, to the Pulo region and the Aurora - Valley-Ding-- came in force to welcome their new shepherd. It was remarkable that those from the Pulo and Valley Ding vicariates made it to Infanta even with a storm brewing. Such was the enthusiasm displayed by everyone. Infantahins welcomed the out-of-town guests to their homes.
Bishops: led by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle and Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales as well as CBCP president Archbishop Soc Villegas and Papal Nuncio Guissepe Pinto, more than forty bishops graced the occasion.
Cardinal Tagle, who gave the homily (Archbidhop Rolanfo Trua Titona, previous bishop of Infanta, introduced the guests; Archbishop Ramon Arguelles officiated the installation; Fr. Nilvon Villanueva read the pope's appointment in Tagalog, and Fr. Mario Establecida, who acted as apostolic administrator the last two tears, thanked everyone) was welcomed a thunderous applause from the crowd. Cardinal Tagle encouraged the Prelature of Infanta its advocacy for the poor long before the Philippine Church's current "Year of the Poor," to continue its advocacy for the poor. He credited Bishop Julio Labayen and the Prelature if Infanta for this advocacy for the poor long before the Philippine Church recognized this "preferential option for the poor" and declaring 2915 as the "Year of the Poor." He also reminded that this advocacy is not measured by he number of projects, but rather in its focus on Jesus, who will always be there.
To do this in Infanta, Jesus called upon a simple shepherd in Bishop Cortez, just like he did when he called his twelve apostles to ministry and discipleship. He chose people who are weak so that we might depend on Jesus. Then referring to the Ina ng mga Dukha painting on the wall, he warned the crowd about being careful with the Buwayas the crocodiles who eat what is intended for the poor. Here he really became animated to the delight of the congregation, especially when he said they need to be turned into "butiki." He also noted the rainbow, which has always been a symbol of hope in the Prelature of Infanta.
Finally he thanked Bishop Cortez for his service as a priest in Laguna and as his auxiliary bishop of Manila.
Archbishop Soc Villegas gave a threesome description of Bishop Cortez, who he said is "payat" or thin and, therefore, easy to carry, "payak" or simple, someone who has no guile, and "payag" or obedient in serving the Church.
American Carmelite Fathers: Fr. Ignacio's Reed, Fr. Alan Rieger, Fr. Tom Martin and Fr. Arnie Boehme, the only remaining Carmelite missionaries in the Philippines showed their support for the new bishop. Three Carmelites, namely,Bishop Patrick Shanley, deceased, Bishop Julio X. Labayen, and bishop Rolando Tria Tirona, now pArchbishop of Caceres, have served as bishops of the prelature.
Religious congregations: sisters from the Carmelites, Notre Dame de Vie, St. Paul, Franciscans of our Lady of the Poor, ACTS, Augustinians and many more also came in force to welcome Bishop Cortez.
Entertainment, food and accommodations: Bishop Cortez, asked the prelature to keep the welcome celebration very simple. Nevertheless, there were the usual band playing, the cultural shows, the lechon, sinantol, and other Infanta favorites. As mentioned earlier Infantahins housed the out-of-town guests. The Choir at Mass was outstanding. Their choice of music and hymns was inspiring.
Bishop Cortez, the first non-Carmelite Bishop of the prelature, said a few words of thanks to everyone. He said that to him the No. One is Jesus and asked them to pray for him.