VIGAN, Ilocos Sur, Jan. 13, 2013—Adding to the list of possible Filipino saints, the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia recently started its official bid for the beatification and canonization of former Lipa Bishop Alfredo F. Verzosa in a ceremony held at the Conversion of St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral.
A man of God
Bishop Verzosa changed the religious, spiritual, and moral portrait of Southern Luzon,according to Manila Archbishop-Emeritus Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, who headed the formal start of the diocesan process for the cause of Verzosa’s beatification.
“We need to live the paschal mystery like Bishop Verzosa, that is, suffering for God, dying to one’s self, and finally, being raised up in the Lord,” he explained.
Praising the virtues of Bishop Verzosa, Cardinal Rosales stressed in his homily that Verzosa was truly a man of God, a zealous teacher, and someone who lived the Paschal mysteries.
Heading the Verzosa beatification cause is its Postulator Fr. Samson S. Silloriquez OAR, who is also the Postulator General of Augustinian Recollects, with Msgr. Gary Noel S. Formoso as Vice-Postulator.
Auxiliary Bishop David William Antonio was appointed Chairperson for the Theological Committee, while Fr. Ericson M. Josué, the biographer of Verzosa, was named Chairperson for the Historical Committee.
Citing the importance of the cause, Archbishop Salgado said that it serves as a challenge to Ilocanos and to all Filipinos “to keep our faith and to strengthen it by the grace of God, especially in the Year of Faith.”
“Help us in letting Bishop Verzosa be known to everybody,” Salgado added.
The celebration of the Holy Eucharist followed the ceremony of the opening of the beatification process.
In a separate interview, Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said the opening of the diocesan process this year shows that “God and the Church expect the Philippines to play a big role in Asia and in the whole world.”
Sainthood for all
In a speech, MCHS Superior Mo. Julie Micosa said that Bishop Verzosa should inspire all people, especially Ilocanos, to aspire for sainthood.
“Bishop Verzosa once said, ‘All men should aspire to be saints; yes, all without exception, because God invites us to the banquet of eternal salvation… The will of God is your sanctification,’” Sr. Micosa quoted.
Archbishop Arguelles further said that his predecessor’s eventual beatification has a big role to play especially in this Year of Faith.
Aside from Archbishop Argüelles, other bishops present were Novaliches Bishop Antonio Tobias, and Laoag Bishop Renato P. Mayugba.
The opening of the diocesan process for Verzosa’s beatification was headed by Nueva Segovia Archbishop Ernesto A. Salgado.
Born in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Bishop Verzosa was the first Roman Catholic bishop to hail from Ilocos. He was ordained the first Filipino bishop of then Diocese of Lipa on 20 January 1917.
He famously survived the massacre of the Japanese in Lipa during the liberation of Batangas at the end of World War II. In 1923, he founded the Missionary Catechists of the Sacred Heart (MCHS), a diocesan congregation for women.
Later, he witnessed a miracle during the apparition of Mary, Mediatrix of all Grace in the Carmelite Monastery of Lipa from 1948 to 1950. After the apparitions in Lipa, he was forced to retire and then spent the remaining years of his life in Vigan. He died in Vigan on June 27, 1954. [Aaron James Veloso/Mark Vertido]